Multiplex society hopes to break ground in 2017

Ucluelet Coun. Randy Oliwa suggests referendum should be revisited.

The West Coast Multiplex Society is making strides in its quest to bring an ice rink to locals.

The society’s chair Samantha Hackett told the Westerly the geotechnical assessment process is complete and a location adjacent to Airport Road has been finalized.

She said a site at the Long Beach Golf Course was considered but would have required additional spending.

“Previous locations that we’ve looked at could be built on but they would need substantial extra costs into the foundation because the land wasn’t as stable,” she said adding regional investment at the airport would create synergies.

Hackett hopes to see construction start by 2017 but noted a lot of ducks would need to line up in a particularly immaculate row for that to happen.

“The best-case scenario, my wishful thinking date, is breaking ground in 2017,” she said. “If everything goes perfectly in the next little while, we’re breaking ground in 2017.”

She said the society is currently revamping its business plan with help from Hamilton and Associates—a company which helped secure funding for Ucluelet’s new aquarium building—that will focus solely on the ice rink and associated amenities.

The society’s original business plan for the multiplex included future phases like a swimming pool and fitness centre which will be considered at a later date.

“The initial phase of the project will include the sheet of ice, Zamboni, storage rooms, skate shop rentals, offices, public washrooms and to be designed for those future things,” she said adding a removable floor might be included in the initial phase.

“We will also be looking at a removable floor in order to provide the community services, entertainment and events without removing the ice surface…We don’t want to promise it but we are prioritizing it into the initial phase.”

Once the business plan is complete, the society will put out a request for proposals (RFP) in search of a company willing to design and build the facility for under $6 million.

“That is what we’d like to cap it at,” Hackett said. “When we go through the RFP process we’ll be letting them know that’s what our max. is.”

The society is waiting on a letter from the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD), which owns the land, to state the land has been reserved for the multiplex so the society can take this letter to potential funders.

Hackett acknowledged raising $6 million seems daunting but said the society will start its fundraising campaign at federal and provincial government tables and will exhaust any available grant opportunities.

“There’s also lots of people invested in the West Coast communities that might want to invest in the building to give back to the community,” she said adding major funders might be interested in the facility’s naming rights.

“We will be going out to all of those big sponsors and players, really any company that has ever associated with the West Coast in any of the eight communities, and we’ll be talking to them to see if they’d like their name on the building,” she said.

Once the $6 million facility is built, local taxpayers will cover its operational costs.

Locals were asked in a Nov. 24, 2012, referendum whether they would be willing to support an annual operating cost deficit of up to $450,000 through taxation and 679 of the 1,074 voters said, ‘Yes.’

During a recent Ucluelet council meeting, Coun. Randy Oliwa asked if the 2012 referendum result had a timeline attached and district CAO Andrew Yeates responded it has been renewed twice.

Oliwa wondered if the question should be put back to the public.

“It was quite an ordeal to hold a referendum to increase people’s taxes and business taxes and I think it was pretty close at the time,” he said.

“From what you’re saying, it seems like a pretty easy extension process…Who would we enquire to about that process and why it doesn’t become a public process again?”

Yeates said the ACRD is working with the society and he noted tax dollars will only be covering operational costs, not capital costs.

“It’s only when we borrow that we have to go through the approval process,” he said.

Oliwa suggested council follow up with the regional district.

“Things change overtime, so if it has to become public than it should,” he said.

The multiplex society’s next board meeting will be held on Jan. 4 at 7 p.m. at the Long Beach Golf Course and all are welcome to attend

 

andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca