Against new PRC plan

Re. Plan to replace Kelowna's Parkinson Recreation Centre

I am concerned about a major project developing at Kelowna City Hall that (I fear) will eventually be presented to us as a fait accompli.

I am referring to the building of a “mega” recreation site on the playing fields of Parkinson Recreation Centre. A city staff member mentioned last week the existing Parkinson Recreation Centre building is too old for restoration. There is even a video on the city’s website showing computerized renderings of the new project.

Considerable money is now being spent on this unapproved (by voters) development.

To appease neighbourhoods, the proposal will reference activity centres to be built in a couple of communities, a mere diversion to limit opposition.

Vancouver has 19 neighbourhood recreation centres, a more beneficial option to a centralized one, where access requires a car. Many of Vancouver’s recreation centres are well over 50 years old. I have also researched other cities and it is clear by the number of neighbourhood recreation centres, they all see their obvious benefits. Some are even free, depending on the location.

I am also strongly opposed to the intention of building the facility and related parking on the beautiful playing fields of (existing) Parkinson Recreation Centre.

The second proposal surrounding this whole activity centre project is the required resident approval process for borrowing the necessary money will be the Alternative Approval Process (AAP) instead of a referendum.

The city wants to put the onus of gathering 14,000 signatures (10% of the city’s voting population) on working individuals, families and retired people, when we have personnel at city hall who could easily organize a referendum.

Swiss cantons hold referendums regularly, particularly when it comes to financial decisions. To expect parents who have worked all day and have kids to care for, to then go door to door to solicit signatures clearly indicates that those pushing this “folly” do not want it to be defeated.

Ideally, facilities like the Rutland Family YMCA can be built in the city’s North End, quite easily on the former Tolko sawmill property, and in Glenmore, and would far better meet neighbourhood, environmental and social needs. A North End one could be easily reached by walking or cycling along the water by all downtown residents, and be partially paid for by a developer.

All work and propaganda must be stopped until a referendum can be conducted on mega centralized versus neighbourhood centre options and their financing.

At the moment, we are looking at an approximately $300 million project—most of it debt-financed and driven by a handful of staff at city hall—that will go ahead without any control on the part of Kelowna residents.

Don Henderson, Kelowna

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