City council to debate supporting 'yes' vote in upcoming recreation referendum
City Councillor Florio Vassilakakis, at last week’s regular council meeting, put his fellow councillors on notice that he intends to bring forward a motion at their next meeting on April 9 requesting they support a ‘yes’ vote in the June 23 referendum for recreation expansion.
(See bottom of article for the Notice of Motion in its entirety).
In a later interview, Vassilakakis said that, while the referendum falls under RDCK jurisdiction, the result will have a very clear and significant impact on the city.
“In reviewing council’s strategic priorities and the OCP (Official Community Plan), a document that was formed through massive public consultation, it’s clear that this (expansion) is the will of the majority of the people who participated in the process, which is all the data we have to go on in our decision making,” he said, adding it fits within the three policy pillars guiding council: infrastructure, community wellness and economic development.
“There are very few decisions we make at council that fit, and fit this well, into all three categories.”
He pointed out that our existing infrastructure is aging: the Pioneer Arena, for example, was built in the mid-1950s and is no longer usable, whereas the Complex Arena opened in 1976 and the Complex Aquatic Centre opened in 1990.
“And it’s not just that they’re aging – people are recreating differently than they were 30 and 40 years ago, and they’re socializing differently,” he said. “They want different things from their recreation centre.”
He added that, while the price tag may seem prohibitive to some, the costs of upgrading are just going to increase the longer the work is put off.
“Meanwhile, when you leave it, the infrastructure continues to degrade and continues to push people to other options, like the Nelson facility,” he said. “It’s not inviting and it certainly doesn’t encourage usership.”
He said amenities are often a deciding factor in attracting and retaining families, businesses, doctors, and other services – all of which contribute to the tax base, thus mitigating the tax burden on current rate payers. Having a place for kids to actively engage in healthy activity will have a positive impact on policing requirements, health, family retention and more, he said.
“The only thing we can do is look at data from people who participated. This (project) wasn’t designed by politicians – it was driven by community feedback.”
As for community wellness, the benefit, he said, is obvious.
“That’s why the provincial and federal governments keep providing grants for exactly this kind of project/facility.”
He said roughly 1,200 household responded to the recreation upgrade survey, and 67 per cent want some sort of change to the facilities.
He added that, win or lose, it’s critically important that people vote, because it will give municipal governments some direction in moving forward.
Vassilakakis’ Notice of Motion in its entirety reads as follows:
“Whereas the City of Castlegar is a partner in a joint recreation service with Area I and Area J of the Regional District of Central Kootenay;
“And whereas the residents and commercial property owners of Castlegar directly fund the recreation service through Regional District taxation;
“And whereas the Castlegar & District Recreation Department through extensive public consultation completed a Recreation Master Plan in the years 2014-2016;
“And whereas the Recreation Master Plan identified project priorities that were brought forward for further public consideration and input through a very open, transparent and engaging process;
“And whereas 67% of Castlegar residents surveyed supported expansion and upgrades to the Castlegar & District Recreation Complex;
“And whereas the City of Castlegar’s Official Community Plan identifies access to, expansion of and support for recreation facilities as they are significant contributors to community pride, to the city’s liveability and health and to the goal of retaining and attracting people and business;
“And whereas the Castlegar & District Recreation Complex expansion meets the objectives of all three of Council’s Strategic Priorities which include Infrastructure renewal, Community Wellness and Economic Development;
“Therefore be it resolved that the City of Castlegar Council send a letter of support to the Castlegar & District Recreation Commission supporting the expansion project;
“And further be it resolved that Council of the City of Castlegar publicly support a YES vote on the June 23, 2018 referendum.”