Alternative approval processes (AAP) to seek elector consent for borrowing funds to for roof repairs at the Gibsons and Area Recreation Centre (GAC) and Sechelt Aquatic Centre (SAC) were recommended at the Dec. 6 continuation of the Dec. 5 Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) finance committee meeting. The projects and 10-year borrowing timelines for each received support at the committee level. The loan amount needed for the work in Gibsons is estimated at just under $2.9 million. Costs for the Sechelt project are $556,300.
What is an alternative approval process?
Those recommendations along with a number of other 2023 spending adjustments for community recreation capital funding (to be covered in a separate article) will be forwarded to the SCRD board for consideration early in 2023. Should the AAPs be endorsed by the board, electors residing in all areas that participate in the SCRD's regional recreation facilities function (which excludes Area A) would be able to register a filing in opposition to the borrowing. The board would be eligible to proceed with borrowing if less than 10 per cent of the eligible electors file documents registering the opposition to the borrowing within the prescribed AAP period.
Spend now or later
“I find it kind of dismaying that facilities we have not even paid for yet are requiring major capital replacements. I wonder how well they were built in the first place if we are already encountering so many costs," Area E director Donna McMahon stated during debate on the matter. She also questioned the wisdom of making major investments in recreation facilities without a long-term plan for the renewal or the future of the five (GAC, SAC, Gibsons Aquatic Centre, Sunshine Coast Arena and Pender Harbour Aquatic Centre) major SCRD recreation facilities.
Gibsons Area director Stafford Lumley asked if the projects could be delayed, as he assessed that taking on major loans “might not be the best course right now.”
"Anything can be delayed. The impact on that though can often be worse in the long run...we [staff] brought forward what we believe in terms is the best stewardship of buildings... but it is a board decision," responded community services manager Shelley Gagnon. Area F director Kate Stamford expressed a similar view. While acknowledging the high project costs, she said, "We can’t just keep holding off, it is landing in our lap. There is an opportunity to move forward with a capital plan. If we don't these problems could come back next year at even higher costs."
Why not a referendum?
Sechelt Director John Henderson voted in opposition to the recommendations on the GAC and SAC roof renewals. He said that he was not opposed to the projects, but would have preferred that referendums be held to seek elector approval. In response to a question from Henderson about costs of those two processes, chief financial officer Tina Perreault estimated that a referendum would cost in excess of $100,000.