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Minoru Precinct renovations needed

Recently, we approved the need, location and financing for the major updating of the Minoru Older Adults Centre and the Minoru Aquatic Centre.

Recently, we approved the need, location and financing for the major updating of the Minoru Older Adults Centre and the Minoru Aquatic Centre.

These facilities have been well used by the public since they were built many decades ago and the growth of our city necessitates the expansion and modernization of these two facilities. During the planning stage in 2014, we will undergo an extensive public engagement process.

The need for these two new centres is obvious. Firstly, our demographics in Richmond show a definite increase in older adults as baby-boomers age.

The demand for quality facilities to provide space for evolving services is increasing and the existing facility won't meet future needs. Similarly, the Minoru Aquatic Centre, while updated in phases, is almost a 50 year old facility.

A valid common complaint of the Aquatic Centre is the lack of family change rooms - and this cannot be easily incorporated into the current building.

The central, preferred location of both buildings - Minoru Park - is undeniable. Minoru Park has been the recreational and cultural hub of Richmond for decades. By replacing both facilities on this site, it ensures convenient public access, as well as Minoru Park's continued relevance to the city.

Also, the relocation of the two facilities to the west side of the Park will allow us to redesign parking and traffic patterns to maximize public safety and traffic flow. Further, we will be able to make the Minoru Pavilion more efficient by providing additional programming space.

However, for council, the biggest concern was how to continue service to current users of both facilities during construction of the new buildings.

We've managed to come up with a plan that allows us to keep both buildings open while construction occurs.

Also important to us, is that the financing plan for the construction of the new facilities will have no impact on property taxes. Most of the costs will be financed internally through use of reserves and other financial instruments.

Just over $50 million will be financed through borrowing, taking advantage of current low interest rates.

Through prudent fiscal management, the city will be free of current outstanding debts by the end of 2014. This frees up more than $6 million annually, which will go towards servicing the new loan, without having to impact taxpayers.

In 2014, extensive public engagement will be held throughout the planning and development process to share information and obtain public feedback.

Stakeholders like the Minoru Older Adult's Board have already established a building oversight committee and the Richmond Aquatics Services Board has provided insight and suggestions up to this point.

We'll establish a special advisory committee to provide input. Other community stakeholders to be consulted include the Richmond Sports Council, Richmond Fitness and Wellness Association and the Richmond Centre of Disability. The city will use many methods to share and receive information.

These include a dedicated web page on the city's website, as well as the use of interactive tools such as, Facebook and Twitter.

Newspaper notices, media outreach, open houses and printed materials at city facilities (the library, city hall, community centres, and arenas for example) will all be used to share information.

I'm very proud to share this latest information on these two significant centres at Minoru Park.

Finally, I'd like to encourage everyone to communicate your thoughts through the public engagement process.

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