Funding for the Strathcona Gardens Re-Create project was denied by the provincial government, which puts the future of the facility into question. Black Press File Photo.

Funding for Strathcona Gardens reno denied

‘If we don’t get funding… our pool will be closing’ — chair

The hoped-for provincial grant funding for the ReCreate project at Strathcona Gardens will not be coming.

Originally built in the 1970s, the Strathcona Gardens facility has been on deck for revitalization since the mid-2010s. After a process of studies, design work and funding applications, the lack of grant funding is leaving the future of the facility in limbo.

The regional district applied to the Canada Infrastructure Grant, which would provide joint funding from both the provincial and federal governments.

“We heard back in March that it was over prescribed and that unfortunately the application we put forward was not approved,” said Strathcona Gardens senior manager Koreen Gurak. “We don’t know what projects got endorsed by the province. It wasn’t ReCreate. We’re still looking to figure out whether or not we can do anything at this point.”

The Strathcona Regional District received a letter from the province saying that because of the volume of other applicants, the funding for this round had been exhausted. During the May 13 Strathcona Gardens Commission meeting, commissioners discussed the issue, noting that several government representatives had acknowledged the fact that the project was shovel-ready and were confused as to why the funding had not been approved.

“We would like to know what projects were supported in that round of funding, because we’re not aware of what was funded through that. There is some kind of notation of things that were either outdoor spaces or trails or bike lanes and those kinds of things that were not necessarily hard-infrastructure building money,” Gurak said.

“Many many facilities across the country are ageing recreation facilities built in the 70s,” she added. “We’re not unique, but to upgrade these facilities come at a larger dollar amount. It’s more than the funding probably allowed for.”

Commission chair Andy Adams noted during the meeting that other areas such as Port Hardy and Tofino were denied in their applications as well. Commissioner Brenda Leigh stated that since the provincial and federal governments were going to be feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for some time to come, it may be a good time to reconsider the project and find a new way forward.

“I bet a lot of communities will be lucky to have a recreation facility not shut down because of COVID-19,” she said. “It’s going to be so devastating to the economy, and I think we should re-jig the whole project and look at what we need to do and what we can do with our own funds. Otherwise we’re a dog chasing a tail and we’ll never get there.”

Adams said during the meeting that if the funding did not come, the future of the facility may be at stake. The $78 million price tag of the project is likely to increase, Adams explained, and that a lack of funds would force the local government to “prioritize where money is spent to offset the impact of the pandemic on its revenues, operations and functions.”

“The fact remains, if we don’t get funding and we don’t re-jig, our pool will be closing because we can’t keep it going under these conditions,” he added.

Gurak said that in the past, plans to revitalize the pool had been slowed because any renovations would require the building to be brought up to modern standards. This includes replacing the pool roof for seismic safety reasons. Since any undertaking would have been large, the regional district planned to revitalize the entire facility, including moving the pool space closer to Dogwood Street and updating the Rod Brind’Amour arena to include bucket seating, a track and the capacity for more events. The regional district has done considerable work towards completing the project, including a completed schematic design and had been setting aside funds to cover their share of the costs.

The regional district will be looking for other funding sources, including a potential stimulus package to help local economies bounce back after COVID-19.

“They’re looking at things that would, as you can see with the opening, are outdoor spaces. They’re places that help to support those kinds of things. That’s on their minds too,” Gurak said. “As you can see right now, we’re closed whereas things that are getting geared up are more outdoor spaces and things that promote recreation outdoors.”

However, outdoor activities would leave vulnerable groups without a place to go. Gurak said that Strathcona Gardens has contracts with Island Health to support people with chronic diseases.

In a letter to federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Catherine McKenna dated May 1, Adams wrote: “We would ask not for reconsideration of the decision, but rather to be considered a back-up in the event that regions that were approved are not able to fulfill the requirements of the Grant, or, for our application to be considered for the Federal Stimulus Plan that you announced on Jan. 31, 2020 seeking ‘shovel ready’ projects for the Federal post-shutdown stimulus plan.” The district also asked to see a list of approved projects.

RELATED: SRD board gets look at recreated Strathcona Gardens

Energy upgrades to move ahead at Campbell River recreation complex



marc.kitteringham@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusRecreation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Homalco First Nation said that it will intervene in the judicial review sought by aquaculture companies with regards to federal decision to phase out 19 Discovery Island fish farms by 2022. In this picture from Sept. 24, a demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver.(Quinn Bender photo)
Aquaculture companies’ judicial review challenges reconciliation and Aboriginal Rights: First Nations

Homalco First Nation chief reacts to Mowi and Cermaq intervention in Discovery Island decision

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Black Creek residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

CSWM will be closing the landfill in Campbell River and opening the organics composting facility in 2022. In the meantime, the City of Campbell River was hoping for a break on yard waste drop-off for residents. Black Press file photo
Comox Strathcona waste board upholds yard waste drop-off fee

Campbell River had hoped for waiver until new organics facility opens

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at a fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. Mowi Canada has applied to the Federal Court of Canada for a judicial review of the decision by Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan to phase out salmon farming in the Discovery Islands by June, 2022. (Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward photo)
Major B.C. salmon farms seek court intervention in Discovery Islands ban

Fisheries minister is phasing out operations in the area by June 2022

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at the Okisollo fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. on Oct. 31, 2018. Several Vancouver Island mayors and members of British Columbia’s salmon farming industry say a federal decision to phase out fish farming has left them feeling “disposable and discarded.” In a letter to Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan, they say they weren’t consulted before she announced a plan to phase out open-net pen fish farming in the Discovery Islands over the next 18 months. THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward
Strathcona Regional District pens letter to Trudeau about fish farm closure

Minister Jordan, MLA Babchuk and MP Blaney also included in letter

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Nanaimo RCMP are seeking the public’s help after a man allegedly assaulted a clerk at James General Store on Victoria Road on Jan. 18. (Submitted photo)
Suspect screams at customer then assaults store clerk in Nanaimo

RCMP asking for information about Jan. 18 incident at James General Store

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Two Nanaimo care-home residents have died during COVID-19 outbreak

Death reported Monday was the second related to Chartwell Malaspina outbreak, says Island Health

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Members of the BC RCMP Explosive Disposal Unit (EDU) is on route to Drummond Park opposite of Fulford Habour on Saltspring Island after the discovery of a suspicious cylindrical-shaped device. (Google/Screencap)
Bomb disposal unit en route to Salt Spring Island after suspicious device found in park

Police say a resident discovered the device Wednesday morning in Drummond Park opposite BC Ferries terminal

Most Read