The Cowichan Sportsplex is not giving up on persuading the City of Duncan to invest money into its new field house.
Drew Cooper, director of operations at the Sportsplex, spoke to council at its meeting on Jan. 20 in an effort to get the city involved in the construction of the new $1.5-million facility.
The city had denied a request for $25,000 towards the field house in November.
“We know the city’s budget is tight and it has to deal with a lot of social issues,” Cooper said.
“But the construction of the field house would contribute about $1 million directly into Duncan’s businesses, plus the job creation it would provide, and it’s been estimated that the city would see about $160,000 per year in economic activity as a result of the facility, and that’s likely a conservative estimate.”
The Cowichan Sportsplex is a popular regional outdoor sports, fitness and recreation park covering more than 26 acres in the Valley.
The property it is on land owned by the Municipality of North Cowichan, but the Sportsplex is widely used by many in the Valley, and beyond.
The grant request from the city was intended to be one of the matching funds required from local governments and sources in order to release the approximately $1 million in funding that has been successfully secured from the Canada Recreation Infrastructure Fund for the field house project.
The Municipality of North Cowichan has already committed $95,000 towards the field house, and the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s board has voted to grant $75,000 for the project.
At the City of Duncan’s council meeting on Nov. 18, Coun. Tom Duncan said the city currently gives an annual payment to the Chesterfield Sports Society, which operates the Sportsplex, of $15,000 for public use, as well as providing water free of charge, up to a maximum of approximately one million cubic feet per year, which costs the city about $20,000.
“It’s a fact that only about 10 per cent of the population of the city uses that track,” he said just before council voted to deny the request.
Cooper asked council at the meeting on Jan. 20 to have a candid conversation about how the grant request could fit into the city’s budget.
“Let’s work from an informed position where we understand the city’s constraints and balance that with timelines that might make a grant possible over time,” he said.
Mayor Michelle Staples said she hopes Cooper and the other people who run the Sportsplex recognize the value the city places on it, and the partnership that has been built between the two over the years.
“We look forward to further discussions in the future,” she said.