In November, Summerland residents will vote in a referendum on whether the municipality should borrow up to $50 million for the detailed design and construction of a new multi-purpose recreation centre to replace the existing Summerland Aquatic and Fitness Centre.
While the outcome of the referendum will not be known until after the Nov. 4 vote, an earlier community survey suggests strong support for a new facility.
In 2021, the municipality completed a needs assessment report to explore a new facility. At that time, there were 620 responses to the first public survey and 386 responses to a follow-up survey.
The survey showed 83 per cent of those who responded strongly supported replacing the existing facility, and another 10 per cent somewhat supported the concept, for a total of 93 per cent.
At the time, the number one indoor recreation space identified as a priority was aquatics. The proposed facility would include a separate six-lane pool and leisure pool, a hot tub and universal change rooms.
Other amenities have also been suggested for the facility. These include a fitness centre, a multi-purpose fitness and activity classroom, a youth and family multi-purpose program room and access to a gymnasium.
The proposed facility, if approved, would be at 8820 Jubilee Rd. E., adjacent to the Summerland Arena and Curling Club.
Graham Statt, chief administrative officer for Summerland, said the referendum question is on borrowing money for a proposed pool at this location. The proposed site would not be changed, nor would the concept be significantly modified if the borrowing is approved.
The cost of borrowing the money would be passed on to taxpayers. Half of the debt would be covered by tax increases and the other half would be through a leveled parcel tax. The increases would be introduced over several years, starting in 2024.
For a property assessed at $600,000, the total costs by 2027 would add up to $468.34 a year. For a home with an assessed value of $899,173, the total costs would be $560.87 in 2027. A home with an assessed value of $1.1 million would have tax increases reaching $623.65 in 2027.
The Summerland Aquatic and Fitness Centre was constructed in 1976. At the time, Summerland’s population was around half of what it is at present. and was expanded twice, in 1988 and 1996.
A facility condition assessment, completed in 2018, showed the major building mechanical, electrical and pool systems have exceeded their usable life. The building envelope is also in poor condition with air and water leakage and the potential for mold.
In addition, there are issues with termites as well as ant and rodent infestations in the building.
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