A new recreation centre is on the horizon – how far out that is could depend, in part, on the strength of public support.
While initial support for a new rec centre has been enthusiastic, Shuswap Recreation Society operations manager Dale Berger is hoping to get a large turnout for an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb 10 – and he’s throwing in a free swim to sweeten the invitation.
In response to the fact the current SASCU Recreation Centre is aging, the Shuswap Recreation Society and the City of Salmon Arm are exploring ideas around future aquatic, recreation and performing arts spaces for the Shuswap community.
Consultants have done a conditions assessment of the current facility to get a life expectancy for the rec centre. And the firm used results from a public consultation process to present options based on what respondents have said they would like to see in a new facility.
“They’ve used the information to come up with a couple of concepts of what the facility would look like,” says Berger, noting recreation committee and consultants will be available at the open house and that costs for a new rec centre will be anywhere from $30 to $50 million.
There will be 13 presentation boards set up showing the evolution of the centre, with costing for various proposals, and the idea of phasing the project to make it more palatable.
Mayor Alan Harrison says two options will be offered and within each option there will be choices. For example, in terms of the aquatic centre, do people want to renovate the present pool or build new one, do they want to transform the gym into a performing arts centre and, if the choice is to build a new pool, would residents prefer to keep the present pool as well, or transform it into some kind of fitness centre, gymnasium or childcare space?
“There are questions like, in the aquatic centre, is your priority leisure like lazy rivers and a water slide, or is it more important to have lane swimming, or a combination?” he asks. “We really want to try and get a good cross section of residents out on the 10th; it really is an opportunity for them to give their opinions and priorities.”
When the time comes, the city will be looking for federal and provincial funds but similarly to the Ross Street underpass, voters would decide on city borrowing and whether they’d like to go further.
“We want our planning to fit the needs of community as it will be more likely the community would agree to fund it,” he said.
At the open house, feedback forms will be available for members of the public to fill in and make their preferences known in case some options have not yet been included.
“You can’t get everything you want, but they’ve based it on the priorities in the public consultation,” he says, noting the consultants were impressed with the 2,200 responses the public consultation drew. “It can be a play thing or for rehabilitation.”
Rehabilitation is an area the recreation society is investigating now as they see a gap in what is available to people with medical conditions that require specialized services – something the new facility could further address. He says one of the suggestions has been for a “lazy river,” where the water is propelled so users can walk or swim against the current.
“Therapists at the hospital are struggling with where to send people; if we did have a facility that provided more opportunities for proactive exercise and rehab it would give us the rationale to put things in place,” Berger says, noting the facility would not be in competition with other area gyms. “There would be opportunities to work out things with Interior Health or IH could give us resources for our own staff.
Berger says the addition of the Minos property certainly gives the recreation society room to accommodate many things but he doesn’t envision a structure on the site.
“But there’s green space and roads that would need to be rerouted, depending on the concept that is eventually chosen,” he says.
While Berger is hoping for a great turnout for the Feb. 10 open house, he says an online presentation with an option to provide feedback will also be available.
“The long-range plan has a facility planned for 2027, but there is a feeling that it could be moved up if there is enough public support,” he said, pointing out construction of the Shaw Centre cost $8.4 million and would not even cover the cost of a gym today. “From my perspective, it’s something we need; we’ve had nothing but positive in conversation with the public and users. But these facilities aren’t cheap and a lot would come down to how the city thought they could manage the cost, and when.”