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Public meeting on $25-mill expansion draws 100+ residents

 As many as 100 people were on hand at the Complex Saturday morning to discuss the proposed $25-million expansion plan, which includes a new sheet of ice, a new tot pool and more.

The meeting was designed to provide information to residents so they may cast an educated ballet in the upcoming expansion referendum, which is slated for Nov. 6.
 
Castlegar city councillor Russ Hearne said the assembled crowd was not uniformly in favour of the plan.
 
“If the referendum was held in that room, it wouldn't have passed – but that's normal,” he said. “People who feel they understand our goals and approve of them don't often attend this kind of thing – why would they bother? It was beautful outside that day.
 
“It's more the people who need clarification, or those who oppose the plan, who show up, and I'm glad they did. They made some very intelligent, thoughtful points, and asked important questions,” he said.
 
He said the most contentious element of project is, as expected, its $25-million price tag.
 
“One of the big concerns was money – a lot of people felt the cost was too high, and thought we should pare it down or do it in phases.”
 
The problem with a phased project, he said, is that it ends up costing substantially more overall, while extending the time staff and patrons alike have to work around construction and chaos. Getting it all done at once, he said, is both more cost-effective in the long run and more user-friendly in terms of facility function.
 
He also said the Aquanauts came forward explaining why they felt is was critical the new plan include expanding the swimming pool from six lanes to eight lanes.
 
“We didn't get a lot of feedback asking for that, so it wasn't high on our list (when we developed the proposed plan),” Hearne said. “That part of the conversation really begins Nov. 7. If and when the referendum is passed, we'll be sitting down with user groups and hearing more about what they want and need, so we know how to proceed.”
 
He said the expansion's current configuration is anything but a done deal, and the planning, design and tendering will likely take an entire year.
“There's so much work involved; so much to factor in,” he said.
 
For more information on the entire project as it is currently proposed, click here.