Grant to offset Pemberton recreation facility extended 

Project ineligible for funding if pool or ice arena added to current plan

Proponents of the Village of Pemberton/ Electoral Area C referendum on recreation borrowing received a boost earlier this week. Officials at the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District office announced Oct. 31 that a grant of more than $1.1 million has been extended to allow for the proposed project’s estimated completion date.

The fate of the money, allocated by the Canada/British Columbia Infrastructure Program, became uncertain when 20 per cent of eligible voters submitted a counter-petition opposing the plan for a dry community centre that emphasized meeting rooms. The grant had initially required that all projects undertaken be completed by March 2006. The request for a one-year extension of that deadline was approved by the Minister of Economic Development, Colin Hansen, on Oct. 27. Additionally, it was confirmed that changing the facility’s plans to include an ice arena or pool would make the project ineligible for the funding.

"They confirmed that to be eligible for the grant money, we must build what we said we would build when we initially applied for the grant, as far as retaining the original scope, elements and purpose," said Paul Edgington, SLRD administrator, in a statement released Oct. 31. "It also seems reasonably likely that we can secure a further extension of time for project completion to March 31, 2008 if it were needed."

The proposed recreation facility consists of a 13,455 sq. ft. community centre, a 3,000 sq. ft. fitness centre and a 4,000 sq. ft. library. The referendum, which will be presented on the Nov. 19 ballot, asks the electorate to endorse a loan of $6.7 million to build the facility. The amount of the loan includes a 15 per cent contingency to cover escalating construction costs.

Taxpayers will be repaying the loan over a 25-year period. Current recreation costs are $28 per $100,000 of assessed property value. Approval of the referendum would see this figure rise to $46 per $100,000 of assessed value. For the average single-family home valued at $480,000, this amounts to an annual increase of $86 a year, from $134 per annum to $220.

More information about the referendum is available at www.slrd.bc.ca .

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