Castlegar and surrounding communities are preparing to go to referendum on whether to build a $25 million dollar renovation for the Castlegar and District Community Complex. As a parent of two kids, I’ve spent a fair bit of time in the facility –  for swim lessons, casual swimming, and drop-in skating – not as much as some parents or other users of the facility, but I have my ideas of what the Regional District is hoping to achieve out of this renovation and believe that there are more questions than answers at this stage.

“Keeping Up With The Joneses” (or Trail/Creston/Nelson)

Castlegar PoolUnfortunately, one of the biggest drivers for recreation capital spending is in providing facilities that equal or surpass those of other communities – a community version of “Keeping up with the Joneses“. The propaganda being distributed by the “Friends of the Castlegar Recreation Centre Expansion Project” states that the proposed lazy river is great for rehab when recovering from an injury, and the leisure area will be great for parents to relax while their kids have swim lessons. This type of marketing is another symptom of the culture of consumerism we live in – we are told we need to have something, so we end up “buying” it, just like everyone else, only to realize that the purchase is good, but doesn’t fulfill our dreams. Personally, this type of consumer based spending is the least important for Castlegar at this time – the community has many greater challenges than whether the kiddy pool is warm enough.

Now there are parts of the project that I agree with. For instance, the Pioneer Arena is an old structure that doesn’t meet the expectations of modern facilities and is at the end of it’s useful life. I’ve had a quick read of the architectural and structural engineering report on the building (from 2009), and would have to agree that the choice of investing further money into this building might give it another twenty years, but it will still be an older style arena, with many issues. Consolidating the facilities on one site makes some sense, however parking can be at a premium at both these locations in hockey season, so I’m not sure that the added parking burden has been adequately considered. The bigger question of ice time and the number of surfaces the community supports hasn’t been adequately answered in my mind. Recreation facilities are notorious for not being self funding, averaging around 50% funding from taxes, with the rest from user groups, classes and fees.

Additionally, facilities for seniors are sorely needed, and that demand, in one form or another will be increasing as Baby Boomers officially become seniors. This is a different generation from previous ones, they may have different needs and wants as seniors, so whatever facilities are provided, they should be adaptable for future generations.

Where I have a problem with the proposal as it is presented, is with the fitness and aquatic upgrades. In my opinion, a big reason for this proposal is the attempt at “Community Level Conspicuous Consumption” – a philosophy of “spend money to attract more money”. This manufactured fight for survival is perpetuated by Chambers of Commerce and other such organizations who’s primary goal is continued growth, particularly of the economic kind. It is the expectation that the only way to grow this community is to provide facilities that surpass those of competition communities. We moved here because we wanted to live close to a job, not because there were three supermarkets or two arenas. It seems that there is a level of community pride based on our ability to compete with and/or surpass other communities, rather than based on actual pride in the communities achievements. I realize that on some issues it is a dog eat dog world, but when it comes to attracting businesses and new residents, there should be a balance between providing excellent modern facilities and fiscal prudence.

The relative merits of the project have been undermined by an all or nothing approach – the level of community discussion and consultation prior to developing the referendum question never examined what level of support there was for a variety of options. Instead it seems we are presented with the wishlist and expected to “Vote Yes”.

I’d challenge Castlegar residents to read on and consider the level of taxation that they are likely to face from other projects that do not appear to be full considered at this stage. These cost, which are entirely external to the referendum and the future of the recreation complex, should cause us all to pause before we “Vote Yes” for a wishlist.

A Look at Other Possible Costs in the Next 20 Years

Hospitals and Schools

The last couple of weeks have seen some bad news for both the hospital and school districts in the West Kootenays, with the bills piling up and cut-backs in the works, the level of service in health and education appear to be likely to decline – whether we like it or not. As part of a recent announcement, the Hospital district is seeking input as to how to fund an estimated $60 million tab, their (our) share after the Province ponies up around $80-90 million for as yet undefined facility upgrades.  While this discussion is simmering in the background, Castlegar’s already weakened health centre seems to be lined up for another blow, with the removal of Ultrasound services. Lets assume that Castlegar residents will be responsible for about 1/4 to 1/5 of this cost, so let’s put that at a round $12 million over 20 years.

School District 20 released an options report that aims to consolidate schools, citing shrinking enrollment and increasing costs across the region, as well as facilities that are aging (and I suppose inadequate for many current learning methods). Even with some cost cutting, it is likely that some of the facilities in the schools that are suggested for continued use will require upgrades in the next 20 years that have not been budgeted – lets assume that Castlegar’s share would be in the order of $10 million dollars. Interestingly, I’ve heard that the school district doesn’t even use the Castlegar Pool for swim lessons, preferring to go to Trail, because it is cheaper. Also, Grad is held at Selkirk College, rather than the “Community Complex” for similar reasons.

Water and Infrastructure Upgrades

The City of Castlegar identified in 2009 a number of significant water infrastructure upgrades that are required to ensure the safe, smooth running of the system. The price tag on this is around $60 million over the next 20 years. Similar costs will be identified in future years related to pavement, sanitary and stormwater infrastructure – let’s (conservatively) estimate the total of all municipal core infrastructure upgrades to be around $150 million dollars over the next 20 years. Many of these upgrades are required just to preserve the level of service we have come to expect over the last 30 years, while others will be required to upgrade facilities to meet provincial or federal standards.

Some of the works identified are for expansions of the water and sewer system to areas like the airport, (at a cost of over $3 million), in the hopes of attracting investment in commercial and industrial lands over there. This work is currently proposed to be raised through taxes, net of any grants that may be available from the Provincial or Federal Governments.

Additionally, in many cases the large capital items (such as a water treatment plant) would increase operational spending. Other initiatives such as water meters, may reduce water consumption across the City, but will not reduce operational costs, and in fact, in every 10-15 year period all of those meters will need to be replaced – if there are 3,000 meters and an estimated replacement cost is $200 per unit and they will all need replacing in 15 years, this is around an additional $30,000 that must be budgeted each year for eternity that was previously not required, (obviously to be recovered from water bills).

The Impending Tax Burden

From the above discussion, the City is facing costs in the next 20 years for capital upgrades to hospitals, schools and municipal infrastructure of around $170 million. By a rough calculation, this means that we should be putting away some where between a half a million dollars to a million dollars a month (depending on interest rates, grant funding etc) into a fund that can be drawn upon for all of these costs. This is above and beyond the normal operating costs of a municipality, which for Castlegar run around a couple of million a year. Also, it is ridiculous to assume that there will be any provincial money available to fund this infrastructure, certainly it would be folly to rely upon it for necessary upgrades.

Even if these estimates are on the high side, we are talking massive spending (around $6 million a year) just to catch up or keep up to a reasonable level of service.

Please note that the numbers above are estimates based on my experience only and may be more or less than the actual values if such options were to be investigated. The point is that there may be viable options other than the single one proposed in this referendum.

Comparison to Creston and the Global Economic Crisis

In some of the documentation provided by those arguing for the expansion, there is justification based on Creston’s recent construction of a similar facility. Interestingly, the timing of the proposal to construct their facility is critical in determining what similarities there are between the two community’s cases. Creston successfully completed the public process for the borrowing bylaw through a referendum in 2006. I don’t know if you folks remember 2006, but the economy was ticking along a lot better than now, and in Creston’s case, Albertans were buying into the town as their reach expanded from the East Kootenays, and generally, there was a pretty upbeat attitude about the present and future opportunities that were available in the region. The Creston project got public approval at the height of optimism in recent years, then were able to construct in 2009 when the labor market and construction costs were much cheaper.

Things have changed since 2006. While Canada is not in as dire straights as America, the country (including the Province of BC) has racked up the biggest debt in recent times in an attempt to keep the economy afloat. Provincial and Federal grant funding has slowed down as a result, and for the first time in decades, homeowners are faced with the possibility that the value of their houses, in many cases their retirement “nest egg” will decrease in value in the next couple of years. Additionally, it is really only in the past couple of years that the impending infrastructure deficit has received any attention from the media, and hence the public. All levels of government will be torn between competing demands for inadequate funding, whether it is schools, health care, infrastructure or safety and security services such as police and fire departments.

Creston committed to the project at a time when there was a belief in the robustness of the financial system and the economy. The Regional District is proposing this project in Castlegar at a time when most families in the region wouldn’t dream of going into (further) debt to upgrade something that only gets used by a fraction of the family. But even worse, is that this analogy falls apart, because the purchase that we are being asked to vote on is equivalent to about 4 times the annual budget for the City of Castlegar. Assuming the average family spends about $40,000 a year, this proposal is equivalent to a $160,000 purchase for a family, somewhat similar to buying a Ferrari when you’ve already got an SUV that still gets you around in style. Still not a great analogy, I’d be open to others in the comments section below,if you’ve got any ideas.

What Would I Propose?

Not wanting to be one that shoots down an idea without providing a positive alternative, I’d suggest a minimal upgrade to the pool, to separate the kid’s pool from the main pool, thus allowing the kids pool to be warmer. This may cost around $50,000. Adding additional swim lanes for competition meets is a wish list item that serves a very small user group – there must have been a reason why it was not built with 8 lanes originally, 6 lanes is a compromise, and we’ve lived with it thus far. Expanding the leisure area of the pool would be a nice upgrade, if you’ve been to Kelowna’s new H20 pool you’d see how popular these centres can be, but they have about 10 times the population – and even then, with the cost of admission ($19 for a family of four), I’m sure for most people it is a treat to use the facility, not the weekly activity.

Improvements to the fitness area and multi-use rooms could be made to allow more room for fitness classes in other areas of the building. This may require some additional storage space and changing out of fittings and fixtures, but it seems that this option has been discarded before asking the public for any input. Cost $100,000.

An expansion project for the seniors centre may require the construction of an addition. This could be around $600,000.

Replacing the Pioneer Arena should be undertaken after a full review of ice times, and all options for location, design and scale of facility. In my mind this can wait, there are few grant opportunities out there at the moment, and this is likely to be the case for several years at least. I’d rather see the Regional District start putting money into a reserve for the replacement of this arena in the future and address the life safety and immediate structural issues at the Pioneer Arena now.

So lets say there was a budget for $2 million dollars now, payable through short term borrowing, and a plan to replace the Pioneer Arena in the future, putting away $200,000 a year, giving $4 million in 20 years, perhaps there will be an opportunity for grant funding at some stage in the future to lever these funds.

For the current proposed expansion project, my suggestion is to “Vote No” – not out of any attempt to squash the idea of a revitalization project, but to ensure it is a project the has value for the whole community, as we’re the ones who will end up paying for it.

If you’ve got something to say on this issue, please leave a comment below. Passionate is fine, but rudeness will not be tolerated.

Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.

20 replies on “Castlegar’s Recreation Complex – The Referendum”

  1. Hey Mike – this was a very interesting read with some very thought provoking questions/thoughts. I’m for the ‘no’ vote for many of the reasons you have sighted. One big question that has been missed by many – is what exactly would we get for $25 million? Its like comparing apples and oranges – what I’ve heard and read is \here’s a concept – but keep in mind it’s just that – we haven’t really consulted with user groups or the community – oh but we’ve gathered a few comments over the years – but we’re thinking that maybe $25 million should do it?\ Does that sound like a well thought out plan. Once again those in power are putting the cart before the horse and I for one don’t want to be saddled to a horse like that. Until there is proper dialogue (that is proper public consultation), a suvery of how many actually use the complex on a regular basis, an analysis on the population and future population growth and a well layout plan, people of this area should be voting NO. Just maybe with a little community engagement maybe the citizens of Castlegar and those surrounding can come up with that \Plan B\ that has been missing.

  2. @raymond – thanks for reading and for all your support.

    @sue – Plan B sounds like a good idea, one based on a rational understanding of the needs and wants of the community. This evening I was disappointed to read in the Castlegar News editorial on the referendum ( ) that the author believes that;

    By voting ‘no,’ you will be choosing to put off that burden. Not avoid. Just delay.

    That’s right, the author believes that an expansion costing $25 million is inevitable, and seems to be suggesting that “voting no” is an irrational selfish decision. As far as editorials go, this one would have to be one of the most biased I’ve ever read, I don’t mind opinions being stated, but this editorial is almost an attempt at shaming people into “voting yes”.

    I did leave a comment on the Castlegar News site, which needed to be “moderated” – I’ve quoted it below:

    Do we have “sub-par” facilities? Have you seen what other communities have? I think ours are pretty good. And With regards to the fear that “voting no” is just deferring the “inevitable”, the only thing that really needs to be done is deciding what to do with the Pioneer Arena, as this is the only facility that needs immediate attention.

    If $25 million is ok, what level of spending would be too much in your mind? Have you considered what other unavoidable costs we will be facing in the next 20 years? Water, sewer, stormwater and roads spending will be in the order of $150 million in that timeframe – which items should take priority and where does expanding recreation fit in – this is the discussion that the community needs to have.

  3. Hi Mike, Thanks so much for your effort to shed some light on this issue. It seems the issue of replacing the pioneer arena has been on the radar for several years but I never payed much attention. In fact I didn’t really pay too much attention to the complex upgrade until the price tag was announced. Well, now I am paying attention. I wonder how many other people are in this position? Perhaps now is the time to re-evaluate our community goals. I have heard all sorts of questions on the street from why do we need to expand a fitness facility to compete with private business which costs the tax payer nothing, to why do we need another sheet of ice when the useage of the existing complex ice sheet is mush less than what one would expect for the cost of such a facility. What does a soccer field or ball field cost per registered participant relative to a new ice rink? Lastly, I wonder if the pioneer arena assessment was based soley on the idea of the building continuing on a an ice rink. What about other uses which would be more in line with a building of this age and construction? What about a conversion of the building to a community market? A facility such as this could support artisans, artists, gardeners, food growers etc. What would a facility such as this need? Just ask community groups forced to hold these types of events outside in parking lots and I am sure the answer would be not much.

  4. @ mike

    Glad to hear you are reading the editorials in the Castlegar News. I don’t think it’s quite fair to say this one was “one of the most biased” you’ve ever read, though, unless you don’t read many editorials. (Ever pick up a National Post?)

    I appreciate that you disagree with the position the newspaper took in the editorial, and I think you make a very strong argument about rejecting this particular $25-million proposal. You very well might be right and, judging from the letters to the editor we’ve run over the past month or so (about two thirds of which I’d say were against the Complex expansion) most people probably agree with you, albeit for a variety of different reasons.

    Still, I think there’s a reasonable case to be made for moving ahead rather than delaying, for the reasons stated in the editorial, namely the borrowing costs and the rather immediate need to replace the Pioneer Arena. Also, while I’m still relatively new to Castlegar, in the previous small city where I served as a newspaper editor (Brandon, Manitoba), I saw time and time again how putting things off ended up costing the community in the long run. Not that every proposed project should be approved willy-nilly, but I think it is important to consider the costs of NOT acting.

    I admit, though, that your knowledge of Castlegar specifically and civic infrastructure in general must be far greater than my own. So I really do appreciate your take on the issue and your critique of the editorial.

    By the way, your comment on was only auto-moderated because you included a link to your blog. (The software does that for any posts with URLs in them.) But I’ve manually approved it and I’ve also added your name to the system’s “Whitelist” so that shouldn’t happen any more. The comment is now up, and I encourage others to have their say, too:

    Robson Fletcher
    Castlegar News Editor

  5. One of the arguments put forward was that the cost of borrowing was low at this time. Do you really expect to lock in a low interest rate for the next 25 years?

    Paul Seminoff: what a great idea to use the Pioneer Arena for something like a Farmers Market type of project. It would be under cover and there is parking available. Also the occupants would not need the level of comfort required by spectators at an event. So long as the structure is safe, that would be OK.

    With regard to parking, the more you add on to the present Complex, the more parking space and congestion that could occur. There is only so much space available.

  6. See what some dialogue can do! It generates ideas, concepts, distinguishes needs from wants and allows the community to get involved – to be apart of the solution. I totally agree with Mr. Semenoff that it is time to re-evaluate our community’s goals and vision. Maybe at the end of the day with some careful planning, engagement and costing – ‘that putting off that burden or delaying the evitable’ may be relatively small – a chance I’m willing to take.

  7. Well I have read this interesting piece and clearly I am in the minority with my “yes” vote. I use the facility on a regular basis and have during my 10 years of living in this community. I can tell you that this facitlity is well overdue for some kind of improvement. The fitness area and gym can only be described as overcrowded and sub-par definitly NOT meeting the needs of this community. All this talk of fixing pioneer area whats the point, you can’t polish a turd. Lets build a first class complex.

    I do agree that more thought may and should go into this development, but don’t they need approval to “hire” engineers and take bids. Its not set in stone they need to know if they can get the money to build something.

    For one why build just a rink why not have a multiuse thing something for future shows and concerts as well as hockey,

    by the way 19 bucks for a family of four to go to kelownas H2O facility is likely a weekly event as its 5 bucks a person which in todays world is cheep, try taking a family of 4 out to a movie for this, good luck, out to dinner well I guess you could go to mcdonalds which not sure if you could feed 4 for 20, but should anyone feed their kids that?

    anyways just tired of working out in a box of sardines then going to the packed pool and steam room and thinking that there has to be a better way

  8. Well there are certainly lots of interesting comments here. I agree with much of what has been said.

    Other comments I have heard on the street are ‘why are there not several options to choose from for the proposed expansion?’ I think many people would have been more inclined to vote yes if there has been a variety of options.

    I also agree we have to think about the community as a whole in terms of prioritizing needs. I agree with Mike that sewers and other infrastructures are probably more important than a Lazy River water feature in the pool.

    I agree with Troy that the weight room area probably needs work as well. I specifically asked Jim Crockett (the Rec Centre Director) about this and the answer he gave me was that the weight room and fitness classs areas were to be approximately doubled in size. It appeared there would be no additional moneys spent for weight equipment. Also the proposal suggests there will not be a wall between the weight and fitness spaces. When classes are in progress, the music is very loud (even with the currrent wall). Weight room users might not appreciate this. Also fitness class participants might not appreciate being viewed ‘up close and personal’ by the weight room users.

    Another question I had for Jim Crockett was how the expansion would affect people living in poverty. Mike mentioned the cost of Kelowna’s H2O pool at $5/person, which as someone else pointed out, is the average low-end admission cost to a recreation facility. Right now there is a Leisure Access Program at the Rec Centre which provides low-income users with a 50% discount. This includes people on a fixed income, such as those on disability.

    I realize there are programs to subsize the costs for children participating in Rec Centre activities. However, the current rate of $250 (which is the 50% discount) for a yearly Leisure Access pass for low income is one that many disabled people simply cannot afford. People on disability make about $12,000 per year. Since no subsidized housing exists in Castlegar for single occupants without children, under 60 years of age, you can imagine how difficult it might be to come up with $250 to access recreation and exercise.

    My concern is that if expansion occurred, the operating costs increase. Jim Crockett said that access fees are based in part on operating costs. If operating costs increase, wouldn’t the access fees increase? Now Jim did say that the expansion project would include making the Rec Centre more efficient, thereby reducing operating costs. However, I still have difficulty believing the access fees will not be reflected the exapansion.

    I would like to see exercise and recreation be affordable to all our community members, not just those who are lucky enough to have an income over $20,000 and can afford their own homes. My worry is the Rec Centre expansion will result in a facility which is much more exclusive, rather than more inclusive.

  9. Good discussion here, Folks!

    Too bad it didn’t all happen before the vote.

    Here are some of my ‘morning after’ thoughts …

    How could so many elected representatives, who apparently unanimously supported the $25 Million Rec Centre Proposal, have been so completely wrong in effectively listening to the voice of the Residents?

    How was it possible that not one member of Castlegar City Council could publicly articulate the view of more that 70% of the Referendum Voters, that the burden of $25 Million Dollars over the next 25 years, was simply not going to fly.?

    After the fact, His Worship, Mayor Chernoff, is quoted as saying…
    ‘ …the will of the people was ‘loud and clear’ but ( he) didn’t expect the ‘no’ side to win by such a large margin.’ (He) was surprised that it was that high,’
    ‘(He said.) ‘I guess people chose that it wasn’t the right time to do this project.’
    ‘The mayor added that it took ‘a lot of work from a lot of people to get this off the ground’.’
    ‘There was a vision there but , … this is a democratic system and the people have spoken,’

    The result of the Referendum appears to confirm the suggestion that our Elected Officials are perhaps out of touch with the Public.

    Where have these folks been living since 2008?

    What possible coherent explanation can there be?

    Could it be that someone stood to gain financially from this sorry exercise?

    More worrying … how much time, effort and money was pumped into this non-starter of a proposition?

    Even more troubling … how many public taxpayer dollars were consumed in the political propaganda favouring the “Yes Vote” (the banner … the full page newspaper ad, etc.)? and whose notion of ‘democracy’ was that attempt to shame folks in to voting “yes”

    Where does this leave us regarding other projects, such as the 3+million dollars for water and sewer to the Gaming Centre & airport, paid by taxpayers?

    And what about council’s premature decision to vote to demolish the Pioneer Arena?

    What further evidence do we need that Council in sorely lacking in its capacity to consult in advance, and represent the needs and wishes of the Community it was elected to serve?

    Fortunately, there are those who believe that no experience is a bad experience, as long as we are able to learn from those mistakes and move forward.

    With the Municipal Election less than a year away, Voters are left to wonder, what has the Castlegar City Council and Regional District of Kootenay Directorship, learned as a result of the referendum outcome?

    Perhaps there is now an opportunity for Council to demonstrate an ongoing, proactive program of Public Consultation, on the important issues facing the Community as we move forward towards a sustainable future.

    Was the timing of the Referendum, far enough ahead of the 2011 Municipal Elections for Voters to forget the fact that Council has now shown its true colours, … that a major house cleaning is in order, … and that a major ‘shake-up’ at City Hall to reconnect with the citizenry, is at least 16 years past due?

    Raymond Koehler

    619 – 9th Avenue,
    Castlegar, BC V1N 1M5


  10. Interesting comments here, I am glad I stumbled upon them.

    Many good people worked long and hard to put together a proposal that was to benefit the community as a whole. It was not accepted by the community and I respect that. Democracy is a wonderful thing.

    The suggestions that we had agenda’s or personal gains is non sense. Our motivation was for the betterment of the whole.

    I would happily address any of the concerns people have on our process or on what they think should be done in the future. I can be reached by phone, email or I am willing to sit down for a coffee. I welcome any input and if anyone would like to be involved in any future planning please let me know and I will pass on your name.

    Russ Hearne

  11. Well now, perhaps, we are getting some place!

    City Councillors ‘stumbling over’ a community discussion of sustainable options … hopefully more members of Council will make the same ‘stumble’ … too bad that similar ‘conversations’ are so difficult, challenging, and sometime downright personally hurtful & insulting in the City Council Chamber.

    Perhaps this is a turning point … offering some hope for the future, … that the sitting Councillors can learn to listen effectively both in the Community and in the Council Chamber, — NOT JUST to those who agree with them … BUT ALSO to those who may have alternate points of view.

    It has been suggested in the electronic media, faced by the Referendum debacle, that City Council should resign.

    I disagree.

    My feeling is that the sitting members of Council now have an eleven month opportunity to demonstrate to the Community how attentive they could be to the REAL sustainability issues faced by their Constituents — who need to create viable futures for their families — in times that by all indications are going to get tougher before they get easier.

    KUDO’s to the Members of Council who joined the Public Protests regarding the IH Ultra Sound debate — and the School District 20 budget discussions — despite the fact that they may have come late to the issues, after much foot-dragging and efforts to squelch Public efforts at discussion in the Council Chamber.

    If the Public does not see progress towards this end, then it is time for concerned citizens to step up to the plate and prepare to take back control of the City of Castlegar, and let the incumbents enjoy long and happy retirements from Public Life

    Raymond Koehler

    619 – 9th Avenue,
    Castlegar, BC V1N 1M5


  12. I as well find the comments here interesting and needed. I am also available anytime to discuss suggestions/ideas for sustaining/improving our community. I believe that all Council members try to do what is believed to be in the best interests of our community. Sometimes we don’t agree on what that is and quite often Council receives conflicting opinions from the community on what is the ‘right’ direction. Sometimes when Council doesn’t do exactly what someone may suggest we are accused of not listening. Either way we try to do what is right for the residents. After all we live here too and pay taxes like everyone else. So please continue being involved with your input and suggestions and thank you Mike for providing an excellent communication forum.

    Kirk Duff

  13. Kirk and Russ – Part of the reason that I wrote this article, and others expressed their opinions here is the perception that there was only one option, to Vote Yes, and that no other outcome was in the spirit of community-mindedness, or forward-thinking, etc. I can tell you that I am not alone in feeling that the push to get this concept to pass was just a little too strong.

    Thanks for taking the time to read, sometimes council must feel like a full-time job!

  14. There are always options. The window of opportunity was small and we took a chance with the referendum which I believe was a good decision in terms of qauging public opinion. The residents made their decision and now we move on. No hard feelings from me. Short term the rec commission will be considering options for facility operations that attempt to address identified short comings within our existing budget something that we have been doing for a number of years already. Our City budget process as always will involve reviewing existing priorities and required/available funds. As you have pointed out there is no shortage of big ticket items coming at us. Items such as water system improvements dictated by Interior Health regulation assuming that we just follow the IH directives without questioning their validity or future necessity.

    Yes, Council sometimes feels like a full time job. Although as long as we keep moving forward and I feel that my contribution is helping then I would like to stay involved.

    Kirk Duff.

  15. Hi Mike,

    Thank you for encouraging a more civil dialogue with Castlegar’s elected leadership than the Community has seen in many years, if ever — through the Urban Workbench.

    Councillor Hearne states:

    ‘Many good people worked long and hard to put together a proposal that was to benefit the community as a whole. It was not accepted by the community and I respect that. Democracy is a wonderful thing.’

    It seems that the Councillor is suggesting that a considerable amount of time, energy (and presumably money) was invested in the Rec Centre Referendum idea (presumably under the auspices of the City) — and despite all of that input, City Council was wrong in gauging the Public feeling.

    — and —

    “I would happily address any of the concerns people have on our process or on what they think should be done in the future. I can be reached by phone, email or I am willing to sit down for a coffee. I welcome any input and if anyone would like to be involved in any future planning please let me know and I will pass on your name.”

    It sounds like the Councillor is suggesting that (as a change ) in the ‘future’, as one Councillor, he will ‘welcome any input’.

    Councillor Duff States:

    “ …we took a chance with the referendum which I believe was a good decision in terms of gauging public opinion. The residents made their decision and now we move on”

    The Councillor comes close to acknowledging that City Council misread the Public mood on the Rec Complex issue right up until the vote. — without detailing what steps of public consultation were attempted or what Public expense was incurred by Council to attempt to ‘(gauge) Public opinion.’ In advance — while at the same time actively promoting the “Yes” position at the Public’s expense.

    In my experience, which dates back to 2004, most folks who have tried to express differing views to Council have come away with such a ‘violated’ feeling, that ‘the price of the eggs’ quite simply exceeds the ‘wear and tear on the chickens’.

    Let’s remember that the Municipal Election is now only 11 short months away.

    If it is true that in 2010, as a result of the Rec Complex referendum fiasco, the Community has finally called for an end to the ‘Divine Right of Kings ( & Queens)‘ at City Hall, perhaps our ‘born again Democrats’ on Council can talk to their colleagues about the need for a change in attitude at City Hall, — SINCERELY welcoming diversity of opinion as part of the planning and decision-making process, rather continuing to celebrate the backroom ‘rubber stamp’ approach to local decision-making — which, as a side effect, makes Council meeting SO boring that no one in their right mind would sit though them anyway. (the only legitimate ‘ulterior motive’ being Public Service.)

    Raymond Koehler

    619 – 9th Avenue,
    Castlegar, BC V1N 1M5


  16. Constructive Criticism

    a. criticism or advice that is useful and intended to help or improve something, often with an offer of possible solutions

    b. criticism performed with a compassionate attitude towards the person qualified for criticism

    Am I expecting too much?

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