City council has punted a final decision on a proposed indoor multi-use facility to its next meeting, after getting some clarity from volunteers and stakeholders on some lingering project details.
Both Mayor Lee Pratt and Chief Administrative Officer David Kim were absent from Monday evening’s meeting, and councillors present didn’t want to make a final decision without their input.
However, Councillor Norma Blissett moved a motion that the city offer land for the facility at Balment Park, which will be on the agenda for the next regular city council meeting on Feb. 25.
Councillor Wes Graham served as acting mayor for the meeting.
“It is unfortunate that we can’t come to a decision tonight, but I think we’re all ready to make a decision and get this project going,” said Graham. “It’s going to be exciting for the community and I look forward to having a decision at our next council meeting.”
Council got the chance to question Mike Robinson, the lead volunteer spearheading the indoor facility, who has raised $950,000 for the project so far, which is hoped to get underway by March with planning and geotechnical work.
There are concerns that some of the grant funding could expire if the project doesn’t get moving soon.
“We do have confirmation that we do have to have this constructed in 2019,” said Robinson. “Looking at all of the tasks that need to get done before you break ground, we are coming down to the wire here for timelines.
Additionally, there is roughly $260,000 that has been raised by local businesses and individuals with donations made through the Community Foundation of the Kootenay Rockies, which can’t be refunded if the project dies.
The facility proposes to be an air-supported dome of 2,600 square metres with indoor heated floors on artificial turf. Robinson hopes the facility will cater to a number of different sports besides soccer, such as baseball, lacrosse and football, as well as various community uses.
There are also separate phases to the vision of what the indoor facility will look like, as getting the foundation and bubble up and fenced is the first priority, while a second phase — which is still fluid and conceptual at this point — could include a fieldhouse and outbuildings.
The indoor facility proposal morphed into an election issue after a decision was made behind closed doors to offer land at Moir Park last year. The Kootenay East Youth Soccer Association (KEYSA) did not agree to the location out of fears that board volunteers would be on the hook for projected annual operating losses of $34,000.
Councillors made it very clear that the decision and discussion next meeting would be open to the public.
“I think we need to have a council decision on this for the next council meeting and I don’t see any reason why that would be a closed decision,” said Councillor Ron Popoff. “My expectation is that it would be an open public discussion and decision.”
While Balment and Moir Park have been the two main proposed areas, Council also wanted staff to look into three different areas of Balment Park to ensure that the facility wouldn’t negatively impact the BMX track.
Robinson has spent the last few months updating the proposed user base of the indoor facility, which range from sports organizations to trade shows, conferences, and daytime school use.
Blissett noted that 54 per cent of Cranbrook’s student population would be within one kilometre of the proposed Balment location, while no schools are within that same distance at Moir Park.
The airlock entrance for the dome can large enough to drive a vehicle through, confirmed Robinson, which will be a boon for trade shows, conferences and concerts.