Curling club voices opposition to indoor facility location

City, KEYSA still ironing out details ahead of a formal agreement for a Letter of Intent

The Cranbrook Curling Club is speaking out against a proposal to build an indoor sports facility in Balment Park.

The organization sent a letter expressing their concerns to city hall, which was received by city council for information during Monday night’s meeting.

The letter, written by Rick O’Neill, detailed a list of concerns that range from building accessibility for seniors, a decline in facility bookings due to the loss of two rows of parking and the loss of space for Sam Steele Days bands and market staff.

“We have worked hard to build up the membership and would hate to see a decrease due to something that we have had no say in,” wrote O’Neill. “Given our struggles to stay open, I am not sure what position the Curling Club would be in if half our membership (seniors) decide the facility is not accessible to them.”

The indoor facility debate has been an ongoing saga since city council agreed to zero in on a specific location within Balment Park.

After being presented with a number of configurations within the green space, council voted to place it between the existing BMX track and the curling centre.

City staff told mayor and council they are currently working with Kootenay East Youth Soccer Association representatives to gather more specific project details and ensuring both sides are aware of respective responsibilities.

At the end of the council meeting, Councillor Norma Blissett authored a motion to allow the use of city staff to remove a light pole and a utility box in advance of planned construction currently set for the fall.

That motion, which ultimately passed by a 4-3 vote, touched off a lengthly discussion on which organization is responsible for various aspects of the project.

“What I said in the motion is that the city be responsible for [it],” said Blissett. “That means that it would be on us, when it comes time, then it would be on the city to do that. I’m not saying that the city has to do this job on this date, just that the city would take responsibility for that in the construction process.”

It is expected to cost approximately $10,000, according to Derrick Anderson, the Director of Public Works, because the infrastructure for the light fixture to be used elsewhere and that a new one may be required. The existing light pole contains the main electrical power for a localized irrigation system, while a nearby utility box, which would also need tobe removed, contains the main irrigation controls.

Mayor Lee Pratt, along with councillors Mike Peabody and Wes Graham, were opposed to the motion.

Pratt said it is incumbent on KEYSA to determine the their needs and responsibilities ahead of the construction process.

“What we’re doing here is getting involved with operations and putting pressure on our staff to circumvent the process of due diligence and I am totally opposed to that,” Pratt said.

During the discussion, Pratt said the city doesn’t need a motion to utilize staff resources to move a lamp post, noting that those types of operational decisions can be made internally once a formal Letter of Intent has been finalized.

Staff noted that they’re still lacking some of the infrastructure details, such as electrical hookup and gas line access, of which those costs would be borne by KEYSA.

Construction isn’t expected to start until the fall in order to accommodate the BMX track season as well as to allow for enough time to order the necessary material for the air-supported indoor facility.

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