Erica and Lauren Koch consider the options presented for improvements to the SASCU Recreation Centre during an open house which gave the public a chance to voice their opinions for the centre’s future on Sunday, Feb. 10. (Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer)

Salmon Arm gets look at new rec centre options

Proposed concepts estimated to cost between $35 million and $47 million

Salmon Arm is one vital step closer to getting a new recreation facility.

Dale Berger, Shuswap Recreation Society operations manager, says attendance at a Feb. 10 open house at the SASCU Recreation Centre was steady throughout the three-hour event.

“We had put out 400 questionnaires and at the end of the day only three were left,” he says, noting he hopes people who took the forms home will return them. “I thought it was pretty good, you’re gonna get certainly the people that use the pool the most or have a particular interest in what they’d like to see.”

As well, Berger believes a good cross-section of the community from younger to senior members attended.

Large information panels revealed details on two possible options that consultants HCMA Architecture and Design created based on public input from 2,200 respondents to an online survey between August and September 2018.

In Option A, a four-phase project costing a total of $35.7 million, would include renovating and expanding the existing pool – $21.3 million; a new multi-purpose gymnasium – $6.4 million; convert the multi-purpose auditorium into dedicated performing arts space – $5.5 million and a new fitness centre – $2.5 million.

In Option A, details are provided on renovating or expanding the existing pool to include a lazy river, easy entry and two 25-metre lanes, as well as a new hot pool, waterslide and universal change room. But this option would mean the pool would be closed for one year during the renovations, and existing racquetball courts would be removed.

Option B includes a new pool and fitness centre – $36.4 million; convert existing pool into a gym and multi-purpose facility – $5.5 million, and convert multi-purpose auditorium into a dedicated performing arts space – $5.5 million, for a total of $47 million.

Related: Add your voice on rec centre options

Berger says he realizes some people will think neither option is enough but cautions the city has to build what is achievable for the community.

“Some people want a 50-metre pool but that’s $9 million; we have to think of where we are, we’re not Kamloops or Kelowna,” he says. “At $9 million, you’re going from $45 million to $54 million.”

Berger adds that one of the things both the recreation society and the architects derived from the survey was that respondents want a convertible space that would be appropriate for both a theatre production and a dance.

He says consultants came up with an option similar to one they have already completed in New Westminster that would easily convert for either use.

Responding to a complaint the performing arts centre would not provide enough seating, Berger says the consultants have advised it could be built to accommodate up to 400 easily and offer comfortable seating, good acoustics and sound and lighting and at a comparatively reasonable cost.

“I think for the size of our community, we know from the events we do, the 400 range is suitable for many of the events that are attracted here,” Berger said. “What the consultants presented was just over 300, but they said we could get 400 without a problem.”

Berger says he has been hearing many concerns about the need for more public swims and more choices, something the society is planning to address in a building that offers better accessibility in terms of more programming, more public time, more things to do at the pool and accessibility into and out of the pool, even for wheelchairs.

At the moment, swimming lessons are being scheduled in between various other activities whereas a new pool would allow many activities, including lessons, to be held at the same time.

Reated: Salmon Arm Council, Recreation Society seek input on facility upgrades

“The biggest concern everybody has is losing the pool for a year,” says Berger of Option A. “With a six-lane pool there’s no expandability to eight lanes, but building a new pool makes that possible.”

The options and ability to provide feedback are available online for one week only beginning Monday, Feb. 11, says Berger. Go to www.salmonarm.ca and click on the “Parks and Recreation “We want to hear from you” tab.

“We want to get the information back to consultants so they can assess it, and our own committee will be assessing it too,” Berger says of the committee that includes a couple of society board members, city staff, councillors and the mayor. “Everyone is well-engaged and pretty up-to-speed throughout the ongoing process.”

Once gathered and assessed, information will go back to council and the city will then look for federal and provincial funds. But, as was done with the Ross Street Underpass, citizens will decide in a referendum if they want the city to borrow funds to proceed with the project.


@SalmonArm
barb.brouwer@saobserver.net

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