Our take: Bare necessities the right path for Kerry Park

It took many tries, but the Kerry Park Recreation Commission seems to have finally got it right.

Last week, the commission announced it was spending about $2.7 million in order to replace the aging arena slab and refrigeration system.

Taxpayers will be paying for these upgrades through a combination of reserves, grants and short-term loans — in other words, existing resources, with no new taxes.

What is puzzling is why it took the powers-that-be this long to figure out this was the proper direction.

For most of the past decade, the Cowichan Valley Regional District has seemed determined to turn necessary maintenance of a deteriorating asset into an excuse to build a new recreation palace in the south end.

Nobody denied parts of the complex were fading and in need of an upgrade. What they did dispute was the need for extensive renovations and expansion, including better dressing rooms, more meeting rooms and a more attractive facade.

A $14.4 million makeover including all the above was on the table last year, despite the failure of previous renovation/expansion projects, including the idea of adding a swimming pool.

Through it all, south Cowichan taxpayers delivered a similar message: we like our rec centre and what it does right now; it does not need all kinds of new bells and whistles.

It’s unfortunate the powers-that-be continued pursuing the expansion agenda through a stream of consultants and lobbying efforts.

If they had simply listened, this summer’s repair job would likely already be complete. And saving would be underway for the next necessary upgrade.

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