photo: Al Waters The City of West Kelowna will be applying for new funding from federal and provincial governments to upgrade and expand the fitness and administration facilities at the Johnson-Bentley Memorial Aquatic Centre.

West Kelowna Council applies for grant to upgrade rec centre

The renovation and expansion would be completed by 2024

The City of West Kelowna will be applying for new funding from federal and provincial governments to upgrade and expand the fitness and administration facilities at the Johnson-Bentley Memorial Aquatic Centre.

Council unanimously voted to request the maximum funding contribution of 73.33 per cent of eligible costs for the project.

Both the federal and provincial government has committed $134.84 million under the Investing in Canada Program’s Community, Culture and Recreation Sub-stream for renovations and new projects.

If the city received the grant, $2.5 million will be covered and $912,420 will come from the City of West Kelowna or borrowing. In the report presented to council Jan. 8, staff cites that the best fit is the expansion and renovation of administration and dry-land programming wing of the centre. If accepted construction would need to be completed by the 2024 deadline attached to the grant.

Coun. Doug Findlater believes that instead of borrowing they should look at community fundraising to raise the $912,420.

“I do react negatively to the idea of short-term borrowing. I realize that is a problem but $900,000 is not an insurmountable amount for community fundraising. I think that is something to keep in the back of our minds.We have service clubs that have awesome fundraising capacity, corporate people that contributed to the original costs of the Johnson-Bentley Memorial Aquatic Centre, maybe they could be approached to help with the refurbishment,” said Coun. Findlater.

The project is not currently in the 10-year capital plan and without funding the project will not proceed.

If accepted council would have to review the priorities already in place to adjust the timeline to push the refurbishment and renovation forward.

Chief administrative officer, Jim Zaffino and staff have committed to review the current projects on the 10-year plan to aid council in making an educated choice in what can be postponed.

The 30-year-old recreation centre, that opened in 1989, currently houses a 25-metre swimming pool, a fitness centre and program spacing.

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