Council punts decision on indoor facility location

Staff says it needs more time to adequately consult with affected user groups at Balment Park

City council punted a decision on a specific location for an indoor sports facility at Balment Park after staff reported they still are working with a number of community groups to find a solution that works for everyone.

An 11th-hour option pitched last meeting was a chunk of space in between the curling centre and the BMX bike track. However, that option takes up some of the parking space by the centre and also infringes on a section of the BMX track.

READ: Council votes for indoor sports facility at Balment Park

“At this point, I would suggest that we consider further consultation with the groups,” said Paul Heywood, when queried by council. “We have not received a consensus between the BMX bike [society] and KEYSA, in terms of how the track should be realigned or rebuilt.

“And the location, we still have six options here for the dome, so that’s where we’re at.”

Heywood added that feedback received from BMX track users was that Balment Park is the preferred location.

Councillor Norma Blissett lamented the length of time it’s taken to get to a final decision on the facility location.

“We told the public we would be making a decision on this by the end of January. It’s now March. We’re heading to the end of March and there needs to be some certainty around this project,” said Blissett. “We need to make a decision, we have the information, we’re not going to make everybody happy on this.

“A lot of the decisions we don’t make everybody happy. Every zoning decision we make, every secondary suite decision we make, we don’t make everybody happy.

“But we need to make a decision because we said we would.”

Even though there was frustration that a final decision needed to be made, Councillor Wayne Price also acknowledged that it was important to identify all possible considerations from affected groups.

“I think the public can accept a delay if they recognize that we’re trying to make every consideration for every group,” Price said. “This thing is going to be there for 25 years, so if it takes an extra week, I think we do our due diligence up front right now and every consideration for each groups and for the long term use of that.”

One concern raised about the option six location included infringement on space by the ramp into the bowels of Western Financial Place, as trucks need a wide swath to turn and back down.

“I don’t want to see this impact the operations at Western Financial Place with the truck ramp,” said Councillor Wes Graham. “Anything else can be dealt with.”

Mike Robinson, a key fundraiser and KEYSA board director, had previously noted that the group needed to know the facility location by February in order to start construction preparation for the summer. However, Heywood indicated the timeline could be altered as KEYSA was also considering a fall build.

KEYSA has been fundraising for the project for the last year or so, raising just over $1 million through grants and sponsorship. The goal is to opearate the facility year round through partnerships with numerous user groups such as KEYSA, Vancouver Whitecaps, Bandits Baseball, School District 5 and more.

READ: Location for indoor sports facility spurs debate

Council had previously offered a location at Moir Park, however, KEYSA declined the space due to concerns that their revenue projections would take a hit. Any losses incurred by the facility are on the shoulders of KEYSA board members.

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