Masset’s rec centre design, site chosen

  • Mar. 11, 2009 4:00 p.m.

The Greater Massett Development Corp. has chosen a design and the site for a new recreation centre – now all it needs is $10-million to build it, chair Trevor Jarvis said at public meeting Sunday night (March 8) in Old Massett. “We’re trying to move this thing forward as quickly as possible,” Mr. Jarvis told the 20 people who attended the meeting. “But it’s 10-million bucks, you don’t just pull that out of the air.” So far, GMDC has not secured any of the money it needs to build the centre. Directors have held promising discussions with provincial government officials, including Premier Gordon Campbell, Mr. Jarvis said, who verbally committed to providing 50 percent of the capital cost. GMDC last month sent the province more detailed plans and a cost estimate, and is waiting to hear back, he said. The board is also hoping to send a delegation to meet with key officials in Ottawa, but the October federal election and subsequent months of coalition turmoil delayed those plans, he said. Directors are hoping this two-pronged approach will result in the federal government contributing 50 percent of the $10-million and the provincial government contributing the other 50 percent, Mr. Jarvis said. The $10-million figure comes from a Burnaby construction management firm that GMDC hired to prepare a preliminary budget for the centre, based on a design by Vic Davies Architect. The firm, Task Construction Management, submitted its estimate to the GMDC last month. Task estimated it would cost about $7.6-million to build the centre in the Lower Mainland, then added an extra $2.3-million because of Masset’s remote location, for total estimated project cost of $9.9-million. The floor plan is relatively simple and was designed for efficient construction. Drawings distributed at the meeting show a building 146 feet wide and 100 feet long, containing a three-lane pool, a tot pool with lazy river, a small hot tub and sauna, change rooms, a squash court and a 2,500 square foot fitness/weightroom area. GMDC’s board, with four directors representing Old Massett and four representing Masset, has already decided the new facility will be located off Hodges Avenue, behind the existing rec centre. Mr. Jarvis told the public that other locations were considered, including near the new hospital or in the Bluejacket subdivision. Directors decided Hodges Avenue was best for several reasons, including that the GMDC owns the land and it already has water and sewer service. Mr. Jarvis said there could be advantages associated with having the centre on reserve land, and the board is looking at ideas like transferring the rec centre property to Old Massett. “If that moves it forward, if that’s what it takes, we’re willing to do that,” he said. GMDC has no plans to demolish the old rec centre or any of the other former military buildings it owns, Mr. Jarvis said. Although the old buildings are an eyesore to some and considered dangerous by others, the board wants to put all its energy into getting the new rec centre built, he said. The board also wants to get a firm idea of how much the rec centre will cost to run, Mr. Jarvis said, and is doing a study on the operational costs. “We want to make sure we’re not getting into something that will be a downward spiral, like before,” he said. Most rec centres receive substantial funding from municipal governments, and this is something that the islands will have to consider. The previous Massett rec centre did not receive any local tax dollars, but it also lost money every year. Mr. Jarvis said the board plans to talk to the regional district about a possible tax contribution when it has a better idea about the operational expenses. The GMDC still has some money left in the investment funds it received when the federal government gave it all the former military facilities in Masset. The investment funds were worth $4.7-million at the end of 2007 and their value has fallen since then by a substantial amount, Mr. Jarvis said. GMDC wants to shelter this money, and use interest generated to subsidize operating the new centre. It’s not spending any of that money right now, Mr. Jarvis said. The cost of its current activities are being covered by the sale of a couple of surplus properties. Denise Collison asked the board about the possible impact of south-end plans to build a pool in Skidegate or Queen Charlotte. “I’d be surprised if they could do the kind of progress we’ve done and catch up to us,” Mr. Jarvis said, adding that he does not see the two projects as competing against each other. “We’re here, we’ve got a design and a budget.” Masset mayor Barry Pages, a GMDC director, also responded. “We are not worried about theirs,” he said. “We’re moving forward.”