The debate over where to build a proposed indoor sports facility has turned into a full-blown election issue, as mayor Lee Pratt responded to a recent lengthly statement from one of the leading organizations that outlined concerns with the state of the project.
The Kootenay East Youth Soccer Association (KEYSA) statement outlined the organization’s concerns regarding financial viability of having the proposed facility at Moir Park, while also calling for an open process to establish a dialogue that includes adequate public input and sustainable planning.
The group also created a Facebook page to foster and centralize the discussion on the issue.
At the end of a special council meeting on Monday night, Pratt brought up the issue, saying that the indoor sports facility debate won’t be settled through social media.
“The council sent a letter of intent to KEYSA to open up a dialogue between them and the city. The process is, a letter of intent is a tool to list all the options available to both parties,” Pratt said. “After this is agreed upon, a licence of occupation is drawn up, stating all the legalities of the contract and the occupation is started. KEYSA did not, and refused, to sign the letter of intent.”
Mike Robinson, one of the individuals leading the charge for the project, said the letter of intent would have limited the discussions to Moir Park alone, rather than other proposed sites.
“KEYSA has since presented the financial challenges with that location, as well as provided the three financial scenarios that were requested by City staff,” Robinson said. “Our most recent press release stated that we could not put the soccer association at risk by agreeing to operate in a location projected to lose between $30,000-$40,000 annually.
“However, given the public support and the responsibility to our donor who would not see refunds if the project failed, the project is anything but dead.”
Pratt added that the city requested further information from KEYSA that it hasn’t received, which Robinson said the organization was still researching because the data scope involves engaging with professional consultants as it is beyond volunteer expertise.
Robinson said a business plan was submitted to council a year and a half ago and that KEYSA was denied an opportunity to present a more detailed plan earlier this year before an in-camera decision was made to offer the Moir Park location.
One of the main concerns from KEYSA is that if the indoor sports facility isn’t financially viable, the losses are borne by volunteer board members.
At the special council meeting, Pratt noted his concerns about taxpayers being faced with any potential liabilities.
“Although it looks like a gift of $1.3 million to the City of Cranbrook, it is council’s responsibility to do its due diligence to make sure it does not come with a liability which would be borne by all the taxpayers of the city, whether they agree to it or not,” said Pratt.