The official results for the vote on the Cariboo Regional District’s proposed plan to borrowing money and increasing the residential tax by $65 per $100,000 to expand the South Cariboo Recreation Centre are in and 74 per cent of the 2,205 voters have said no to the project.
“I am very pleased with the voter turnout for the referendum and glad that the result was definitive. We wanted the public to have their say on this project and the direction is very clear,” said Coun. Ralph Fossum, who is also a co-chair for the project, in a CRD press release.
100 Mile House Mayor Mitch Campsall said he was shocked at the outcome and even though he is happy either way, it must have been a great disappointment to the people who worked so hard for this project. He was happy with the voter turnout though.
Margo Wagner was also happy with the number of people who expressed their opinion at the voting stations but was not so happy about the results.
“I’m disappointed that we’re not going to go ahead with the rec centre expansion but I totally appreciate the voters taking the time to vote and they have given us a clear mandate that ‘no’ is the answer and we will abide with their decision,” she said.
The preliminary results released on June 9, showed that 1,622 people voted against the project and only 583 if favour. On June 11, the South Cariboo Committee got together to discuss the results and the future of recreation projects in the Cariboo recreation service area.
“We are going to have to wait until after the fall election. It’s not fair for us to start on a new project when we could potentially have some new local government officials come in. Then I think we will look at the strategic plan of recreation in the South Cariboo. We have a few groups that are looking for expansion projects and new projects so we have to do some strategic planning around that and put it into a business plan and that will be up to the newly elected officials after the election,” said Wagner.
Campsall said the regional district should look to expanding the borders of the South Cariboo Recreation Service Area because a lot of areas were left out. Campsall even said they received numerous letters from people expressing their desire to vote, including two resorts in the Bridge Lake area who weren’t very happy with not being allowed to vote.
“They wanted to be part of the community and they weren’t and I have to agree with them. People want to be part of the community,” he said.
The plan would have included an upstairs walking track, a multi-purpose turf field and an indoor court created by HMCA Architecture + Design. It also would have included a renovation of the Curling Club’s kitchen and new reception area, which would have connected the curling rink, the arena and the expansion.
The plan was endorsed by the South Cariboo Joint Committee after a meeting on Oct. 13, 2017.
The project had an estimated price tag for $14.6 million and would have required the CRD to borrow $10 million over a period of 20 years and look for grants and corporate sponsorships for the remaining $4.6 million. The residential tax would have been increased from $55 to $120 per $100,000 of land value to cover construction and operation of the facility.
However, the project split the population of the South Cariboo into different factions. There were the people who wanted it, some who didn’t want it at all and a group who wanted an aquatic centre or pool.
After collecting feedback from the public through surveys, open houses and other avenues it was decided by the district to bring the matter to a referendum due to the diverse opinions within the South Cariboo Recreation Service area.