Resident objects to cash for Saltair centre

Jack Taylor wants to conduct a survey of the residents of Saltair to determine how much support there is for a community centre in the area.

Jack Taylor wants to conduct a survey of the residents of Saltair to determine how much support there is for a community centre in the area.

Taylor, who describes himself as a concerned citizen, appeared as a delegation at the board meeting of the Cowichan Valley Regional District on Dec. 14.

He took issue with plans by the CVRD for the Saltair Community Centre, which was formerly Mount Brenton School, stating that the aging facility requires extensive and expensive upgrades that may not be worth it.

Taylor said the Saltair Community Society, which operates the community centre, should be instructed to prepare a five-year business plan to detail how the society intends to run the facility and what the revenue sources will be.

Mel Dorey, the CVRD’s director for Saltair, said a survey of what local residents would want in a community centre was conducted at the beginning of the process years ago, and most respondents were in favour of a centre at the old school.

“We’re a community with a lot of retirees and many won’t use the centre at all or volunteer to help out there,” Taylor told the board.

“I think this should be considered before a decision is made to allocate more funds to it. The district has already put $300,000 into it and it will needs lots more, which could be enough to build a whole new facility.”

The CVRD purchased the school building and the 5.5-acre property its sits on for $300,000 in 2014, and approved a service agreement at its board meeting on Dec. 14 that will see the Saltair Community Society run the community centre for two years.

The CVRD has allocated $45,000 per year to cover the operating costs and mortgage on the property.

Dorey said the plan is to try to access money from the Federal Gas Tax Fund to help pay for the required repairs to the building’s infrastructure.

“Using an old school as a community centre has its problems, but we’re going to bring in professional builders to conduct a full assessment of the building,” Dorey said.

“We know that upgrades are needed in the gym, there’s no heat at one end which requires a new furnace and there are some other issues. Our plan is to give the society full power to deal with them.”

Dorey said the approximately 100 people who responded to the survey on what local people would want to see in a community centre that was conducted early in the process indicated they were in favour of the facility.

“The community centre will be reassessed annually and it will be determined at those times as to whether we continue operations at the facility, or whether a new community centre should be considered,” he said. “A 10-year business plan will also be part of the process.”