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New facilities on schedule

Despite poor weather conditions, crews are hard at work to ensure the new recreation facilities planned for the Coast are completed on schedule.

Despite poor weather conditions, crews are hard at work to ensure the new recreation facilities planned for the Coast are completed on schedule. According to the recreation facilities monthly report for February, released at the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) last Thursday, the pool aprons (inside) for the Sechelt aquatic centre have been poured to 80 per cent completion, and when complete, will conclude the interior concrete work. Major mechanical units and air handling filters have been installed, and final design for the additional fitness space is complete and has been approved.

Construction crews working on the Gibsons community centre have also faced unco-operative weather; however, the remedial soil work inside the building footprint is nearing completion, and wall panels for the arena are on site and will be erected starting next month. "The sites are progressing quite well," said project manager Brian Storrier. "The finished schedule is still early fall, probably October for the pool, and we're looking at January for Gibsons."

Storrier said the projects are still on budget, and he excepts them to stay that way.

"There is a lot of work going on every day, and there have been no major glitches," he said.

Last Thursday, SCRD directors took a tour of the facilities and saw firsthand the progress that has been made.

"I think the community will be very happy with what has been developing," said Bruce Bauman, recreation manager for the SCRD. "The sites are progressing extremely well. The opportunities these facilities will bring to the community are exceptional."

With the pool and community centre on schedule, the race is on to find employees to staff the facilities.

"We are starting to generate interest," said Bauman. "I know there are nine people taking part in a national lifeguard course at the Pender Harbour pool this week. There is a posting for an area recreation manager for the Lower Coast, and we just closed a couple of recreation co-ordinator positions."

Bauman expects more positions will generate interest towards late spring and early summer.

"There is no question we are going to require a number of employees in those facilities," said Bauman.

While staffing the recreation facilities is a major decision, factoring the associated costs into this year's budget has also been a daunting task for regional district directors.

"This year's budget will reflect a 6.9 per cent increase over last year's budget," said SCRD treasurer Joan Merrick. "The increase is mainly due to the recreation facilities."

Making up 51 per cent of the regional district's budget, the costs of the recreation facilities might take some residents by surprise.

"It was part of the deal when people voted for the recreation referendum," said Gibsons Coun. Gerry Tretick who toured the facilities last week on behalf of the Town of Gibsons. "I think there will be some surprised residents out there, but overall I think people understood the associated costs."

Tretick said there are a variety of opinions regarding how the recreation facilities should be staffed.

"The regional district has decided to fully staff all the programs at once providing the full-meal deal, instead of gradually staffing the facilities," Tretick added.

The SCRD's 2007 budget will be finalized March 29. For more information on the recreation facilities or to view the construction progress, visit