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Richmond councillor suggests gardens, solar panels on roof of new community centre

The new Steveston community centre and library is expected to cost about $90 million.
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The concept plan for the new Steveston community centre and library were endorsed by council Monday.

Richmond Coun. Harold Steves said he isn’t “that enthusiastic” about a plan to rebuild the Steveston Community Centre and library, but he’d like to see the air space above it used for a community park or garden, greenhouses or a solar farm.

In the end, council unanimously supported the $90 million project at Monday’s committee meeting, but Steves said the original plan, and why he got involved planning it some years ago, was to have seniors housing on the top floor.

Now, he’d just like the air space used for some community purpose.

City staff said, with council approving the budget and concept plan, it’s expected shovels will be in the ground to build the new facility in the first half of 2023.

In conjunction with the community centre plan discussion, some councillors brought forward the transit hub, expected to be built in Steveston some time in the future (TransLink's plans have been delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic).

Coun. Carol Day questioned whether approving this concept plan is putting the "cart before the horse" given city staff plan to update council in the fall of a possible location for a transit hub. 

While council has previously told city staff they don't want the transit hub at the community centre, Steves suggested it could possibly go under the community centre or along Moncton Street.

Steves said he predicts by 2050, the area will have 50 per cent more residents.

According to the “Steveston plan,” approved in 1971, the area north of No. 1 Road and Moncton Street was supposed to be densified with tall towers, Steves added.

“We seem to be straying from that dramatically, and, in my opinion, we should actually be instituting that plan more now than we even anticipated at that time,” he added.

$90 million price tag for community centre and library

The new facility, about 60,000 square feet in size, is expected to cost $90 million, but $5 million will be added as a contingency fund.

It’s estimated to cost $50 million for the new building, $22 million for civil works and site preparation, $14.5 million for parking, $2 million to demolish the old building and $1.5 million to rebuild the educational garden and new washrooms in the park.

The lion’s share of the money is coming from two different capital reserve funds with about $5.7 million from the Steveston Community Amenity fund.

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, however, noted that the project would use all the of the capital building and infrastructure reserve - $63 million.

He suggested city staff try to find other funding, like a loan or grant, to cover part of the construction costs in order to not completely deplete this reserve in case other smaller projects come up in the near future.

The item should be back at council next Monday before the August council break.