Rec complex may need new location

Replacing the Vernon Recreation Complex isn’t straight forward.

Replacing the Vernon Recreation Complex isn’t straight forward.

Politicians have asked Regional District of North Okanagan staff to investigate costs for a new facility after learning the current structure requires $2 million in repairs.

“It will be a bigger issue than anyone realizes,” said Keith Pinkoski, planner, of the process.

First off, more than bricks and mortar may be required.

“We may have to look at new land because we may not be able to build on that site again because of the proximity to the creek,” said Pinkoski of the provincial government’s riparian rules around waterways.

Long-term community needs would also be considered. Expanded activities and the requirement for parking may dictate another location.

“We would look at building towards the future,” said Pinkoski.

Finding a large enough property in a central location could become challenging.

The pool, auditorium and Dogwood Gym receive about 300,000 user-visits a year, but there are questions about whether some features, like the auditorium, would be replicated.

Staff will report back to the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee board in January but further discussions are expected beyond that.

Among the problems identified at the recreation complex is the dehumidification system which was undersized when the pool was constructed in 1993.

The unit was shut off because of expensive repairs needed to keep it running, but that led to damage to the roof and the walls in the pool area. The repair cost is about $1.7 million.

Also needing repairs are the heating lines which were not installed correctly when the complex was built in 1965. Repairs could be about $232,000.

Director Rob Sawatzky is calling for a reasoned approach to the future of the recreation complex.

“The repairs may be cheaper than replacing it but who knows. We need an expert analysis,” he said.

Director Mike Macnabb also isn’t sure what direction will represent residents’ needs best.

“If staff comes back and says (a new facility is) $20 million, you can afford a lot of repairs for that. But at some point, the facility will reach its lifespan,” he said.