Campbell River mayor comes up with surprise notion to buy arena

Mayor Walter Jakeway dropped a bombshell on the Strathcona Regional District board

Mayor Walter Jakeway dropped a bombshell on the Strathcona Regional District board Wednesday morning.

Jakeway, who sits as a director on the board, surprised everyone with a motion to possibly sell Strathcona Gardens.

“I would like to move that the Strathcona Regional District approach the City of Campbell River to look into the feasibility of the cost and implications of selling Strathcona Gardens to the City of Campbell River,” Jakeway said.

Director Mary Storry, caught off guard by the motion, asked if the issue could be dealt with at the next board meeting so there could be more discussion and information to work with.

“Is there an option of notice of motion?” Storry asked. “This is a very serious motion.”

Jakeway agreed that the motion could be formally made at the next board meeting, which is scheduled for March 28.

Strathcona Gardens is maintained, operated and governed by the regional district although it lies within the city boundaries.

After hearing lengthy discussions around creating a new human resources position at Strathcona Gardens, Jakeway said he believes the recreation complex would be better suited under the City of Campbell River’s governance.

“Just listening to all of the agony in going through the financial plan, with the Strathcona Regional District trying to deal with human resources, it’s easier for the city – which has way more horse power – to deal with,” Jakeway said. “I suspect the Strathcona Regional District would be better off without it.”

Jakeway was referring to discussions around hiring a new human resource employee. The Strathcona Gardens Commission, which governs the recreation complex, does not want the position while some members of the regional district board believe the position needs to be filled.

If Strathcona Gardens is sold to the city, it’s unclear how that would affect Area D which is outside the city limits but provides an annual contribution to Strathcona Gardens for use of the facility.

This year alone, Area D will be contributing $515,000 of a $3.4 million budget for Strathcona Gardens which includes improvements to Rod Brind’Amour Arena. New surface and dasher boards are expected to be installed this year.