West Kelowna Council split on community centre upgrade

Despite the best efforts of Coun. Duane Ophus to encourage West Kelowna council to replace the Lakeview Heights Community Centre with a new facility, that idea has been shelved for now.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, the councillors debated what to do with the Lakeview Heights Community Centre.

A structural report indicated that there are significant problems with the existing pitched roof structure of the building, which has caused sagging on all sides of the main roof structure.

This has resulted in the exterior upper walls being pushed outwards. Parts of the building are more than 100 years old.

District staff recommended that council approve a $210,314 project to upgrade the existing structure. The restoration project would make the building structurally adequate for at least 10 years.

Staff also recommended the building be closed on Oct. 2 to avoid additional danger caused by heavy snowfall on the already sagging roof.

Ophus argued that the plan to repair Lakeview Heights Community Centre was essentially a Band-Aid solution to a bigger problem.

“This really needs some serious consideration before we blow a quarter of a million or more on this thing. The larger issue is the needs of our community,” said Ophus.

“This building, as currently configured, is completely inadequate for the recreational needs of the community.

“If council is determined to go ahead with this, we’re investing in a building which isn’t obsolete by physical structure necessarily, but (which is) already obsolete in terms of the functions of what’s needed for the community.”

Mayor Doug Findlater and Couns. Carol Zanon and Gord Milsom were in favour of the community centre upgrade as proposed by district staff.

“This has to be done. I don’t think we have much choice if it’s a safety issue,” said Findlater.

“Will people be clamoring for a new building? Yes, quite possibly, but I predict (Lakeview Heights Community Centre) will still be here in 20 years.”

Zanon’s feelings on the issue mirrored Findlater’s views, and she added her concerns about the danger posed by the aging facility.

“This has to be closed and the sooner the better,” she said.

“Now that we have been made aware of the risk, if anything happens tomorrow, we’re going to be examined on how we tried to expedite this to get this matter taken care of.”

Findlater and Milsom also noted that it wouldn’t be fair to build a new community centre before analyzing all other capital priorities.

The community hall upgrade was defeated as Ophus, along with Couns. David Knowles and Bryden Winsby, voted against the hall proposal, which included an additional $50,000 expenditure for a new wheelchair accessibility ramp.

Findlater said that council will discuss what to do with Lakeview Heights Community Centre at a future meeting.



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