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Rural politicians fume at being forced to pay for Strathcona Gardens upgrades

Rural politicians continue to speak up against an upgrade for Strathcona Gardens which will cost taxpayers $73 million.

Strathcona Regional District directors representing residents on Quadra Island and north of Campbell River say it’s not fair for their taxpayers to be asked to fund upgrades for a recreation complex in Campbell River they will probably never use.

At the regional district’s regular meeting this week, Area A director Gerald Whalley says his constituents already have a pool in Sayward.

“It’s totally unfair and unreasonable to expect people who don’t use it and never will use it to pay for the Strathcona Gardens,” he says. “The vast majority of my population feels that way.”

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Robyn Mawhinney represents Quadra Island and surrounding islands. She says she has received many letters, emails and in-person comments from people who are upset they will be asked to help pay through regional district taxes. She says the project will be a financial burden for some of her constituents.

“Some of them are low income, or elders or seniors who are already struggling with their taxes and are not in a position to be able to add another 400-plus dollars to their annual taxes,” she says.

If the project is approved, the regional district will be able to borrow up to $64 million to renovate the recreation complex. The Strathcona Regional District says the average increase in taxes to repay the new debt will be around $8 per month.

The board plans to seek grants from senior governments to help cover the rest of the project’s estimated $73 million cost.

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The board received a dozen letters this week against the upgrade, specifically using rural taxes to pay for it. It’s currently going through an alternative approval process, anyone opposed has until October 4 to formally comment.

What’s getting upgraded

POOL: The proposed upgrades for Strathcona Gardens include a completely rebuilt Aquatic Centre. According to the regional district, “the condition of the pool was of particular concern – the pool is at risk of failing at any time. Without a plan in place to build a new pool, the aquatic center could be shut down.”

ARENA: The Rod Brind’Amour arena’s renovation design will focus on enhancing the arena’s functionality and user experience. include expanding spectator seating and upgrading team rooms, creating the potential to attract a Junior A hockey team to the region and host a more diverse range of events. Additionally, there are plans for a second-level walking loop, providing more opportunities for rehabilitation and fitness activities within the facility.

WELLNESS CENTRE: An all-new wellness centre with 10 rooms for physiotherapy and rehabilitative services, and an expansion of the current fitness centre and weight room.

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More details about the project can be found here. 

How to comment against the project

To have your comment formally count in the alternative approval process, you must fill out an elector response form.

Electoral Response Form link 

 

How to comment in favour of the project

From the SRD: 

If you hear friends or family expressing concerns about the AAP process or the project, encourage them to check out the project’s website FAQs or email your questions to [email protected].

You can show support for the project by sharing your positive thoughts with others and what it would mean to you, your family, and the community to see a completely modernized and renovated recreation facility.

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