A referendum to decide whether Vanderhoof will get an aquatic centre has been pushed back from this November to spring 2012.
The decision was made after the Vanderhoof Pool Committee decided that the pool should be a regional district facility, rather than a municipal facility.
Steve Little, Chair of the Vanderhoof Pool Committee says if the facility is built and run by the regional district it will give the project more long-term security.
Despite this change, previously released figures for tax increases remain largely the same.
The committee had estimated that it will cost around $480,000 a year to operate the pool. They are requesting that the communities of Fraser Lake, Fort St. James and Regional Districts ‘C’ and ‘D’ each take on $25,000 a year and that Regional District ‘F’ take on $100,000 a year. The remaining $280,000 would be covered by Vanderhoof.
The cost to build the pool is currently estimated at $12 million, $8 million of which the committee hopes can be funded by various grants. The remaining $4 million will be the responsibility of Vanderhoof and area ‘F’.
The tax payers of Vanderhoof will be asked to permit council to borrow $3 million and the taxpayers of Regional District ‘F’ will be asked to contribute $1 million toward the cost of construction.
An average household in Vanderhoof would be looking at a tax increase of about $130 per year.
Little says the only figure that they might expect to see any fluctuation in is with the capital costs.
“We’re looking at roughly the same figures except the cost to build the pool,” said Little.
“What we don’t know is how much interest it’s going to be on the $4 million yet … the regional district didn’t want to put out a price because that’s what the public will remember, so if that isn’t what it ends up being then people get cranky,” he said.
The capital cost figures will be announced closer to the referendum.
By handing over the pool to the regional district, there will now be six referendums all held at the same time next spring. Little says the pool committee thinks this is a much better system than what was previously going to happen.
“This is a much better system … because the other regional districts don’t get to just opt out.
“With the way we originally going for example, if Fraser Lake said yes to the pool this year, they could turn around next year and say no we’re not going to give you any money … this way they would have to go through a referendum to get out,” said Little.
The referendums will be held in Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake, Fort St. James and their three regional districts. An exact date for the referendum has not yet been chosen.
Originally the referendum had been set for November so that it would coincide with municipal elections which would reduce the cost.
Little says they had no choice but to push it back and that it will only cost more to the tax payer if the referendum fails.
“The regional district works a little slower than us because every one of those referendums has to have a bylaw and they have to send their bylaws to Victoria for approval … and that’s why we lost the November deadline,” said Little.
“We thought we might get approval for the first of November but if we don’t then where do we go?”
“So that’s why we had to postpone it,” he said.
“And if it passes next year it doesn’t cost us more, but if it fails then we have to pay back the money for the referendum,” he added.
While the pool committee have released a proposed design for the $12 million pool, Little says these designs are in no way final and may change depending on the available budget.
The current design includes swimming lanes, a lazy river, excercise lanes, excercise pool, kids pool and other amenities.
Public meetings for the aquatic centre will resume in September.