PARC debates multi-use space on pool site

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A grant application to help fund a new programming space has caused a rift in the Salt Spring Parks and Recreation Commission.

If received, the grant would provide some funding for a portable structure to be installed at the Rainbow Road pool site. The structure would give programs like Camp Colossal a place to operate indoors in inclement weather and other community groups would also be able to rent it.

One of the grant stipulations is that a child-care program operate in the space. PARC is proposing a recreation-based daytime program that lasts under three hours. The CRD would have to pay $81,160 of the total project costs, which are $296,460. Those costs would come out of PARC’s operating account for 2019 ($43,920) and a contingency of $32,940 from the pool capital reserve fund. The grant application is due in January, pending CRD Board approval.

PARC members voted in November to recommend that the CRD Board approve the project. At that meeting, the issue of whether PARC should be in the childcare business went back and forth between commissioners. Commissioners Garth Hendren, Darlene Steele and John Gauld all had concerns about the project, saying that putting a portable on CRD land would slow down any future development of the Rainbow Road pool facility, and that taking on a 10-year commitment to run a child-care program was not PARC’s job. The November meeting ended with a vote to approve the application for the project. Commissioner Hendren resigned after that meeting.

PARC chair Gregg Dow brought the agenda item back to the table in December to regroup after the November meeting. Slight modifications were made to the proposal based on earlier conversations. Commissioners went around the table discussing their opinions about the project, though no vote was possible as the item had already been approved.

Commissioners Sonja Collombin, Jacky Cooper and Brian Webster all expressed support for the project. Collombin said that having a space for programs is important to the community.

For more on this story, see the Dec. 19, 2018 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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