Squash courts in the works

Final plans to include fitness gym and racquet court.

A Burns Lake resident takes in the arts available from the Lakes Artisan Centre. The co-op was awarded a three year lease.

At a Nov. 27 public meeting of the Village of Burns Lake council, it was unanimously voted to approve design plans for the proposed multi-use facility expansion that include a fitness/weight room as well as the late addition of a racquet-sport room.  The addition of the racquet-sport room doesn’t necessarily mean expanding the walls of the facility.  The room will replace one of three multi-use rooms originally proposed.

The proposal to include a racquetball or squash court in the facility expansion to begin in early spring of 2013 was tabled at previous council meetings by there wasn’t enough information available regarding extra costs.  Bruce Carscadden Architect Inc. was in the meantime able to inform council that a squash court could be accommodated within budget at the expense of one of the three multi-purpose rooms.

After debating the merits of including a racquet-sport court in the final plans.  Councillors and Village of Burns Lake recreation director Logan Wilson were in agreement that the potential interest and extra revenue from the availability of squash or racquetball courts could only help the financial bottom line of the expanded facility.

Mayor Luke Strimbold was concerned that the proposed changes would deviate slightly from the feedback council received during their public consultation regarding the expansion.

“Is anyone concerned about the slight deviation from the public consultation we did?” Strimbold asked.  He suggested that council take more time to consider the proposed changes.

Chief administrative officer Sheryl Worthing explained that council was already three weeks behind in delivering their instructions to the designers and the contractor.  She explained that a decision must be reached without any more delay so that the contractor could still proceed with his March 25, 2013 start date.

Wilson presented revised projected revenue and expense numbers for the multi-use facility.  In developing his projections, Wilson considered rates and levels of facility usage in Kitimat, Terrace and Houston.  He focused on the Houston number because of similarities in size between Houston and Burns Lake.

Based on population use by age group Wilson determined that percentage of the Burns Lake population that could be expected to use the facility.  His numbers were deliberately conservative.  “We’ve left out First Nations in the area as well as Electoral Areas A and E,” he said.

This decision to only consider the population of the village in the preliminary budget considerations was done to be fiscally prudent.

“These are very conservative numbers,” Wilson said.  “This is the best estimate we can come up with for the area for now.”

Despite Wilson’s conservative approach Mayor Strimbold cautioned that Houston’s population profile might not be an accurate indicator of how Burns Lake residents will use the facility. “But I think it’s been a good process,” Strimbold said.

A lingering concern was to address the issue of whether or not the inclusion of a weight room could harm local private businesses.   Wilson pointed out that other towns in the region that had municipal fitness centres were still able to sustain private gyms.

Councillor Illes asked Wilson if he thought that the multi-use facility was viable without the inclusion of a gym.  “To me it looks like the budget will not work if we don’t have the gym, is that correct?” he asked.

Wilson responded that the parts affect the viability of the whole.

“You would definitely have an impact if you didn’t have a gym, but you’d also have an impact if you didn’t have a climbing wall.  Having many activities is one of our selling points and as soon as you take one thing out it becomes less attractive,” Wilson said.  “All of them are just as important.”

The purpose of the draft budget was to give council an idea of what revenues and expenses might look like with the new facility.  They are not meant to be taken as hard numbers.

“The village’s formal budgeting process will allow for further discussion and decision making,” she said.

The village has public budget reviews planned for Dec. 4 and Jan. 15, 2013 before the final adoption of the budget on Jan. 29, 2013.

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