The ballots have been cast. Regional recreation was given a thumbs up by the majority of the Coast with a 67 per cent "yes" vote June 25.
A total of 8,638 eligible voters had their say at the ballot box last Saturday - 5,806 voted "yes" and 2,785 voted "no" when asked to approve the construction, capital improvements, operation and maintenance of an aquatic centre in Sechelt and an ice-based community centre in Gibsons at a cost of $19,338,000. The remaining 47 ballots were spoiled.
This is the third time the Coast has had a recreation referendum since 1998.
"Sometimes it takes three times to get it right," said Gibsons Mayor Barry Janyk. "Now we have to prove that we've got it right and keep working, keep our building on time."
Sechelt's acting mayor Barry Poole is equally excited at the opportunity to build a pool in Sechelt. "We are ecstatic. The District of Sechelt will finally get a pool," Poole said.
The 67 per cent yes vote signals the community's willingness to borrow up to $19.3 million to construct an ice based facility in Gibsons (slated for Brothers Park) and an aquatic facility in Sechelt (slated for Block 7 beside the library). Those two facilities, in addition to the existing arena in Sechelt and pool in Gibsons, will be taken over by the regional district and paid for equally by Coast residents, excluding the Islands Trust and Pender Harbour.
Now it is up to the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) to give the service establishment and loan authorization bylaws fourth reading and final adoption at their July 14 regular board meeting.
But there may be a glitch in the plan.
Sechelt Indian Band Chief Stan Dixon says he's not sure the band will take part in the recreation function, despite a 90 per cent "yes" vote from Sechelt Indian Band members (88 voted "yes" and eight voted "no").
"Our band will meet in early August or late July and decide if we will participate in the recreation function of the SCRD," Dixon said.
He says the band's commitment won't make much of a difference to the overall funding of the project.
"It's calculated on population proportion, and we don't have 800 members, so we would pay $60,000 to $70,000. But that's something we'll consult with the regional board about," Dixon said.
SCRD administrator Doug Holmes said he had no idea the band was thinking of pulling out of the function. "We haven't had any correspondence from the band about this, so we'll just have to wait and see," Holmes said.
The SCRD will meet to discuss regional recreation next steps regularly in the coming weeks. The first such meeting was held Thursday, June 30, after Coast Reporter deadlines.