News

Kerry Park vote killed over question of ‘who pays?’

A fall referendum to get rolling on much-needed TLC for the Kerry Park Rec Centre’s a no-go due to a who’s-paying-what conundrum.

Mill Bay Director Brian Harrison confirmed Thursday a vote on phase one of renovations of the south-Cowichan facility has been put on the back burner because of lingering money talks between Mill Bay, Shawnigan Lake, Cobble Hill and Cowichan Bay.

The Kerry Park Commission had been recommending replacement of the arena slab floor, change room expansion, increased seniors programming space, improved meeting room diversity, storage facilities and upgraded office space.

The conundrum’s a complex one, Harrison said, noting talks mostly concern Cowichan Bay’s role.

“It still lingers. It’s very, very complex and it’s because 35 years ago, the vote was held and four partners entered into a venture for Kerry Park.

“So if one is able to withdraw from it, I guess my difficulty with it is, ‘do the other participants now have a say as to whether they want to see that happen or not?’

“So there are all those aspects that really haven’t been resolved.”

And until the four area directors can come up with a deal that satisfies all of them, a referendum waits.

In the wake of the failed 2009 referendum, Plan B for the 35-year-old facility has been broken down into three phases with basic upgrades as the number-one priority, commission chairwoman Heather Broughton has explained.

The commission has hired CEI Architecture firm to assist with public input on design concepts.

A dollar value hasn’t been set in stone, but Broughton said the CVRD wouldn’t be spending any more than $12 million on the first phase.

The controversial pool option hasn’t been completely ruled out as an option a long way down the road, but is unlikely any time soon.

Instead, phase one construction would leave open the option of a pool component being added in the future, if south Cowichanians want it.

That was the conclusion after two focus group sessions in October.

Phase two, which could either include a second sheet of ice, or construction of a pool, would be determined by the wants of the community.

If folks said ‘yes’ to a pool, then the slab of ice could be built into a lingering phase three, Broughton explained and vice-versa.

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