Ucluelet is making a game plan to build a new sports facility.
During the Jan. 25 committee of the whole meeting, Director of parks and recreation Abby Fortune presented to council potential options.
“As you all know, the Seaplane Base Rec Hall has extended its lifespan and the community and council have both identified the need for replacement of the Seaplane Base Rec Hall,” Fortune said.
Council showed a keen desire to invest in a new sports facility while creating their 2021 Five Year Financial Plan; $1 million out of the Barkley Community Forest funds was earmarked for the project with $50,000 going towards preliminary design work.
“Considerations that were ultimately explored for any type of hard sports facility, we looked at programming opportunities, operational costs, and other uses such as muster station stations or shared resources with an organization such as the food bank,” she said.
Fortune put forward a grid of pros and cons for council to consider when looking at the overall design, size and location of the new sports facility.
Straight off the bat, council unequivocally agreed that they would prefer a fully enclosed building over a covered sports surface or open sports surface.
“I’m just concerned that if we lose the rec hall and then eventually the poor UAC hall, that’s going to be a very sad day, but I think we have to look at what we are losing from those and what we do in the rec hall and the UAC hall right now,” said councillor Lara Kemps.
“Plus we have sideways rain. And it also could be a centre for relief in case of a tsunami,” councillor Marilyn McEwen said.
When it came down to the size, council preferred the larger option of a 10,000 to 13,050 square foot facility that could house a full basketball court and double volleyball courts plus have room for storage, washrooms and offices. By comparison, the Seaplane Base Rec Hall is 5,700 square feet.
“Go big or go home,” said councillor Rachelle Cole.
“We just have to look at our population. We are gaining a population and popularity. Lots of kids,” Kemps went on to say.
Fortune advised council that the larger, fully enclosed option would be tied to a longer timeline and higher price tag, pushing upwards of over $5 million.
In terms of location, Tugwell Fields seemed to be the go-to choice being centrally located and in a tsunami free zone, but Kemps raised a yellow flag on the lack of parking in the area.
“We are a growing. Already, if we have a soccer game or anything, I don’t’ see the room for baseball, soccer fields, and a hard sports facility up there and everything all in one. We need a lot of parking,” Kemps said.
“Storage and field house parking are things we would definitely have to explore. There are other options when we think beyond the space that is the parking lot currently. Certainly as the director of parks and recreation I don’t want to see the field that we have reduced, but we have some space behind and there is Memorial Park right now, so there’s some areas to look and explore further,” she said, adding that she would bring back her recommendations to council.
Next steps for progressing the Ucluelet sports facility involve hosting an open house and/or online survey to garner public input.