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Federal government rejects $25M grant for Summerland recreation centre

Status of grant was not known when pool referendum was held in November
Participants in the Recope program work on exercises at the Summerland Aquatic and Fitness Centre. The facility attracts a variety of user groups, swimming lessons, the Orca Swim Club and other users. A grant application for $25 million, to cover part of the cost of replacing the aging facility, was denied by the federal government. In November, 2023, when the referendum on borrowing was held, the status of the grant application waas not known. (Summerland Review file photo)

A funding application, submitted by the municipality of Summerland, for a net-zero carbon recreation centre, has been rejected. 

The municipality had earlier applied for the grant through the federal Green and Inclusive Community Buildings program. The grant was for $25 million towards the construction of a proposed recreation centre including a new pool.

The application has been submitted to Infrastructure Canada by the deadline of Feb. 28, 2023, but had wanted to ensure construction of the proposed facility could begin as early as possible, because of rising construction costs.

The municipality held a referendum on Nov. 4, 2023, expecting the grant application would be announced in time to provide voters with information about the cost of the project.

However, the status of the grant was not known by the time the referendum was held.

“It’s disappointing we had to wait a year before finding out about the grant,” said Mayor Doug Holmes. “The government imposes tight deadlines on municipalities to submit grant applications yet has no schedule for itself to review and approve those applications.”

Because of the lengthy process, Summerland council will bring forward a resolution at this year’s Southern Interior Local Government Association, calling on the federal and provincial governments to establish and adhere to processing timelines and decision dates for their application-based grant programs.

Council has also agreed to put forward a resolution calling on the provincial government to amend the municipal assent voting process to allow for different options on a ballot beyond a single yes or no question.

Because there was not clarity from senior governments on the funding, the referendum question asked voters if they supported borrowing up to $50 million, the full cost of the project.

Around 58 per cent of the ballots cast were opposed to this amount of borrowing.

With the results of the grant application now known, council will explore options for extending the life of the existing 47- year-old Summerland Aquatic and Fitness Centre.

Funding has been approved to repair a section of the roof and other basic maintenance and repairs while larger time-sensitive upgrades will be considered as part of council’s 2025- 2029 budget deliberations.

John Arendt

About the Author: John Arendt

John Arendt has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. He has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism degree from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
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