The city hesitantly agreed to help the Minor Lacrosse Association pay off its lacrosse box construction bill.
The association came to city council last week after running out of money to pay off the contractor and was looking for $97,356 from the city.
On Tuesday, council agreed to foot the bill but some councillors felt torn in making the decision.
“I have to say I struggled with this,” said Coun. Claire Moglove. “I’m going to support this reluctantly and one of the reasons why (I’m supporting it) is because the project went into cost overruns because of the location and that location and design was mandated by the city. It was the city that wanted it in that particular location and the city has to take some responsibility.”
During construction, major drainage issues were unearthed. The lacrosse box, which is in Robron Park, is located in an area where water collects because of the way the land is sloped, said Kevin Mills of the Campbell River Minor Lacrosse Association.
Drainage problems, coupled with defective boards that run around the box and other “extenuating circumstances” resulted in higher than expected costs once the box was completed, said Mills.
This is the second time the project has gone over the original budget. In January 2010 the association discovered that the required drainage system would cost an extra $138,000, of which the city provided $40,000.
To date, the city has contributed $213,285, the federal government provided $226,254 through the Recreation Infrastructure Fund and the community and the Minor Lacrosse Association raised $134,637 towards the project.
Coun. Roy Grant said he also struggled with the decision to bail out the association but wants to encourage partnerships with the city.
“I think we’re between a rock and a hard place with this one,” said Grant. “Our city encouraged the lacrosse association to build this in a partnership with the city. Now that it’s built, our city parks and recreation manager (Ross Milnthrop) says the association has succeeded in providing a first-class lacrosse box. There’s two messages here – the negative message we’re sending is that if an organization gets into trouble it can go to the city looking for financial help. The good message is it’s promoting sport for Campbell River youth and it encourages enthusiastic volunteer groups to come to the table with projects like this.”
Coun. Andy Adams pointed out the association took on costs – related to the drainage system and electrical service – that the city would have had to bear during other phases of the Robron Park project.
“At the end of the day there’s tremendous community involvement and tremendous sponsorship and we have a first-class facility,” said Adams. “So I think this is an appropriate use of funds.”
Mayor Charlie Cornfield agreed and said he is glad to have a lacrosse box back in the community.
“We’ve been supportive of a lacrosse box for a long, long, long time and it bothered me that the youth had to go to Courtenay to use their lacrosse box because we didn’t have one,” said Cornfield. “It’s a valuable piece of infrastructure, it was worth the leap on this project. It’s built to our standards and I think we have an obligation to cover it.”
The new box includes a score board and shot clock and an Internet security system to deter vandals at Robron Park. The facility was built at a cost of $0.46 on the dollar to the city and created over 50 man month’s worth of employment.
The lacrosse season gets underway April 1. Mills said registration is up this year, about 20 to 25 per cent, from 130 kids to between 140 and 145.
Some players got a helping hand from Wal-Mart which recently donated 10 sets of lacrosse gear to the association for kids who would not normally be able to afford it.
Anyone interested in signing up for lacrosse can e-mail Kevin Mills at email@example.com