“We need full clear true disclosure,” said Director Brad Hope at the regular meeting of the Regional District office of the Okanagan Similkameen which he attended last week with Director Mayor Randy McLean. The topic on the table was the Aquatic Centre. With an upcoming referendum, the Aquatic Centre has become a focal point for many conversations between government officials and residents of Princeton. Local government has been working hard to locate all answers being brought to the Aquatic Centre Committee’s table. Part of that process involves the Regional District who has been providing the committee with statistics and process guidelines for the upcoming vote including clarification on the parcel tax which will be set into motion if and when ground is broke for the new centre.
Director Hope wants to ensure the public that everything is being thoroughly reviewed and combed over, so that all the figures presented are as accurate as possible for the hypothetical proposal. “I don’t want there to any major surprises at the end of this process,” continued Hope. “If the referendum passes and we go ahead with the construction of this structure, I want the annual operating expenditures to be worst case scenario for sure. The public has put their trust in us to present the facts and we need to ensure that we do that.”
During further discussions on the topic over the course of the week, Mayor McLean said that part of the process was in hiring “provincially renowned consultants to take on the feasibility study and design projections. Architect Bruce Carscadden and Bill Webster of PERC know what they are doing and have many years of experience in the business. It’s what they do and they have been excellent on other Princeton projects we have now completed. I have faith that we are doing this the right way with the right people. From the very beginning, we have involved top-noch people.”
McLean also wanted to remind the public that Recreation Director Lyle Thomas is one the best people Princeton could have access to for the process. “Lyle has gone through this whole process before in a rural community in Alberta from the referendum to the completed centre. “He brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience that is priceless to a project of this magnitude. We are really fortunate to have him on board for this process. The Aquatic Centre in Three Hills, Alberta is now a successfully operating facility.”
Both McLean and Hope praised the committee members for the many hours of time and effort they have put into the upcoming referendum. “The members have been getting hit from both sides. There are a lot of residents who really want this Aquatic Centre to happen and have been really supportive and others who are questioning everything,” said McLean. “They have a tough job and have been handling the process really well. They have spent a lot of time speaking with the public about the proposed centre…most of them while holding down full time jobs. It is a big commitment they have made and one which I personally thank them all for. It is because of committed community volunteers such as them that our community is flourishing. I can’t say enough about them.”
“The referendum process has nothing to do with whether or not the local government likes the Aquatic Centre or not,” stated Hope. “Our obligation is to provide accurate information to the public. This is a nine million dollar proposal with a possible six million coming from our constituents. We need to present the pros and cons, find the answers to the questions and be fully prepared. We need to look at other communities who have gone through this process and now have an operating Aquatic Centre with the outmost care.”
McLean said, “a big part of the process is getting the information out to the public. We have qualified staff to help with that and an engaged committee. I feel confident that we have the right people to get us to the referendum no matter which way the outcome lands. John Akerley is super qualified to be on this committee. He has been in charge of a 700 million dollar project in Algeria and worked on the Penticton’s South Okanagan Event Centre. Carol Mack has managed pools for over 25 years and Nadine McEwen and Tanya ter Keurs have both worked as lifeguards, Nadine has also been a Community Services Coordinator for Surrey and Recreation Coordinator for Princeton. We have connections in place with the seniors, youth, swim club, rural residents and elsewhere. The process is in place now we need to let the community decide. Council makes hundreds of financial decisions every year, but this is a financial decision that will be made by the people.”