A plan to spend up to $110 million to double the size of the Steveston Community Centre and library was enough to make Richmond Coun. Harold Steves’ “Scottish blood boil.”
While the majority of council voted to move forward with the project, they also asked about lower cost options and different locations as well as a transition plan for construction.
Steves opposed the high cost and asked why the centre couldn’t just be repaired. He also added he wouldn’t support a new community centre if it didn’t include affordable housing for seniors.
“This report makes my Scottish blood boil,” Steves said at Monday’s committee meeting.
Steves expressed his frustration that Steveston Community Park was earlier envisioned as a seniors “campus of care,” saying he got involved in the community centre renewal project because he thought it would include seniors housing.
When Steves said he wanted to talk about using the airspace – building above the community centre –Mayor Malcolm Brodie called a point of order. The mayor later clarified that the use of airspace for housing in parks would be discussed at Monday’s council meeting.
Steves and Coun. Carol Day were the only council members voted against moving forward with the community centre rebuild.
The current plan would triple the size of the library, from its current 4,000 square feet to 12,400 square feet, with a new children and youth area and room for computers. The circulation and support areas would expand 14-fold from 150 square feet to 2,100 square feet.
The community centre would expand by about one-third, from its current 33,400 square feet to 47,950 square feet with two gyms, a larger fitness room, three meeting rooms and a larger kitchen. The new proposed facility doesn’t include a stage or squash court.
Staff outlined the possible addition of a 9,000-square-foot child care centre for 37 children at an additional cost of $6.5 million. However, they didn’t recommend building it because it wasn’t identified as a “program priority” in the community consultation.
The child-care space could result in loss of greenspace and require more parking.
Steveston Community Park is about 30 acres in size and the current centre takes up about 14 per cent of the park.
The estimated budget in the five-year capital plan was $90 million, but the new centre could end up costing between $92 and $110 million (in 2022 dollars).
There is $5.5 million in the Steveston Community Amenity fund for the new centre, and the city has applied for a $10 million grant from the federal government towards the new facility.
The new centre is on the council-approved capital plan, earmarked for 2020.