Chairperson, Regional District of Nanaimo
District 69 arena project answers coming soon
Most residents in District 69 agree their community needs to develop additional ice facilities to meet the growing demand for public skating, hockey and skating programs and other arena uses. What's still an issue is the best way to provide this expanded recreational ice facility at the most reasonable cost.
On February 12th, the Regional Board acted to ensure that we would have all the information needed to make a sound decision. We decided to postpone the referendum on twinning the existing ice sheet at the District 69 Arena in Parksville and issue a request for proposals (RFP).
The process we initiated gives the private sector the opportunity to submit comprehensive proposals to develop new ice facilities for arena users in the northern part of the Regional District. One proposal that's already been floated publicly is the Arbutus Meadows Iceplex. It would involve converting the Arbutus Meadows equestrian arena in Nanoose Bay into two ice sheets and requires that the RDN commit to renting ice time. There are, however, other interested parties.
We've had an excellent response to the request for proposals. More than a dozen private sector interests attended a March 5th information and briefing meeting held to ensure all proponents understand what is required from them. After the March 22 RFP deadline, staff will evaluate the submissions received and recommend that the Regional Board proceed with either taking the District Arena Twinning Project to referendum on May 25th or pursue a public-private partnership arrangement based on one of the proposals.
At our April 9th Regional Board meeting your elected RDN representatives will consider all the information gathered before making a final decision. The work that's already been done by the public, the Arena Committee, the District 69 Recreation Commission and the RDN Board in preparing the costs and benefits of twinning the District 69 Arena gives us good benchmark to use in comparing private sector proposals.
The $6.26 million cost associated with building a twinned ice sheet with leisure ice at the District 69 Arena will be held up against the financial terms of all the proposals received. Other factors like proximity to population centers, transportation accessibility, the future uses of the existing arena, the facility quality and operation arrangements and overall value for money will also be taken into consideration. The right decision must be made for future ice users as well as all taxpayers.