The regional district is undertaking a $21.8 million overhaul of Strathcona Gardens.

$21.8 million Strathcona Gardens renovation moves forward

Strathcona Regional District will undertake a feasibility study to determine which concept to pursue for Strathcona Gardens

A new wellness centre with a therapy pool or improvements and expanded seating for Rod Brind’Amour Arena?

Those are likely the two concepts the Strathcona Regional District will have to mull over the next year and a half.

The regional district is undertaking a $21.8 million renovation to Strathcona Gardens but what that will look like is still to be determined.

Michele Babchuk, Strathcona Gardens Commission chair, said a public survey and a needs assessment done on the building last year highlighted a number of building deficiencies that the regional district wants to ensure are remedied.

“What we heard is that the existing facility has many limitations and is unable to meet the demands of users,” Babchuk said. “The next step for us in addressing those issues is to continue working with the public and users of the facility to make sure we have it right before committing to a specific future vision.”

Consultants GDH Solutions have put forward two options. The first proposes to build a wellness centre that would include a fitness and exercise room, along with the therapy pool, and a new welcome centre for reception and information.

The plan also includes the addition of multi-purpose rooms, improved and expanded pool change rooms, increased program options and improved access to both upstairs and downstairs levels at Strathcona Gardens.

The second concept involves a rebuild of Rod Brind’Amour Arena, new and improved change rooms, as well as new seating at the arena.

The project is just now moving into the development phase which will include business case development and technical investigations that will form part of the feasibility study. It’s expected that this phase of the project will be complete by December of 2017.

The project kicked off last year with a Needs Assessment study that determined the existing building is aging and unable to meet the needs of the community, now and into the future. The process also involved a community survey in which Campbell River and Area D residents expressed a desire for better arena change rooms, improved spectator seating at Rod Brind’Amour Arena, another sheet of ice, and dryland training areas. Survey respondents also identified a need for more lanes and a larger deck at the main pool, a bigger men’s change room, more family change rooms, more amenities at the pool, as well as more pool time.

The multi-year project will require significant funding to undertake.

During budget planning, the Strathcona Regional District board approved a funding plan that will see Campbell River taxpayers pay $84.02 per $100,000 residential assessment for the next seven years in order to generate $1.45 million annually for the project. The regional district is also looking for grant opportunities for matching funds.

“We are committed to finding the best way forward to manage existing funds and leverage dollars from other sources while minimizing the tax impact on citizens,” Babchuk said. “There is still much work to be done before we will have a clear picture of what lies ahead. Full public engagement will be essential for the development of a renewed Strathcona Gardens that will meet the public’s recreational and leisure expectations.”