Fernie residents will have the final say on whether the City goes ahead with a new multimillion-dollar, multi-purpose community centre.
The City is proposing to build a centre that merges and replaces current community and recreation facilities, such as Fernie Memorial Arena and the community centre, which are beyond their life expectancy.
Communications Coordinator Alycia McLeod said ultimately, this will save the City and taxpayers money.
“By combining these facilities into one new modern complex, we will benefit from operational efficiencies, energy cost savings and a significant reduction in taxpayers’ requirement to pay for our infrastructure deficit,” she said.
“Securing external funding to assist with the necessary renewal of our main community and recreation facilities will improve the City’s financial position to address other infrastructure priorities.”
On January 23, staff submitted an application to two funding streams, which offer cost-sharing grants with a maximum senior government contribution of between 73.33 and 90 per cent.
The final design approved by council features a 1200-seat arena with six change rooms, walking track, curling rink with four sheets and an 11,200 square foot gym, and attaches to the Fernie Aquatic Centre.
Known as Option A, this design was initially costed at $79.9 million, however, McLeod said City staff were able to further refine the details and costs, reducing it to $72,524,200.
The City hopes to be successful accessing a grant under the Rural and Northern Communities program, which offers the highest senior government contribution of up to 90 per cent of eligible costs.
This would mean the City chips in $7,252,420. It is investigating fundraising opportunities, such as partnerships with other agencies and the sale of old facilities, to avoid raising taxes if successful for a grant.
Ultimately, the project and its final design will depend on support from the community.
McLeod said further public consultation is required prior to committing the City’s portion of the funding.
“We are preparing options for that process to be discussed at an upcoming Committee of the Whole meeting,” she said.
“Although council has provided direction to submit the grant application, the City’s portion of the funding will require public support to go forward.
“If the City is successful in securing funding for the multi-purpose community centre, there will also be further opportunity for the community and stakeholders to be engaged during the detail design phase.”
The City expects to learn the outcome of the grant applications before the end of the year.