Thursday, January 25, 2024

Racquet Centre quest for letter of support gains approval in principle, pending further review of renovation plans

The Society which runs the Prince Rupert Racquet Centre has some
renovation plans in mind for the facility

Plans for a renovation project at the Prince Rupert Racquet Centre made for some discussion at Monday's Prince Rupert City Council Session, with the city's councillors giving some tentative approval to a request for a letter of support towards the Centre's funding quest, though with some questions raised about the renovation plans.

The discussion came following review of a letter in the Consent Agenda for the night, one which generated a fair bit of commentary towards how the city should approach the request for the letter of Support.

Leading off the discussion for the night was Councillor Nick Adey, who while supportive of the request was looking for more background towards the planned renovations and whether the city should have more say towards the planned work when it comes to a facility owned by the City.

"Im interested in a little bit more background on precisely what it is were being asked to do and the reason I'm interested in finding out a little bit more, is because this is a building that we own.

And the proposal for it I'm fully supportive of, I think it would be fantastic.  

But it is a building that we own and what that means is that the proposal involves some work that maybe,  more correctly a city decision as opposed to a tenants decision.  And I'm just looking for a little more clarity from whoever can offer it to me on how we're striking that balance.

And as I say I'm asking it in the spirit of trying to move it forward, but we need to do it properly"

Corporate Administrator Rosa Miller provided a review of the process that would be involved towards the scope of the changes in mind for the facility and how the city would approach them. 

"In terms of the request as noted in the letter from Mr. Haley and the Society the process really would be that whoever wanted the renovations, doesn't matter what civic building it would be for.

They would come to the City request changes to be made through us, we would review it, it's more of a process piece. 

It would go into our Budget requests to Council, the City would make a determination as to how to fund it, the City would then approve the plans and then proceed with the application of the grant.

It's a little backwards in the  process to have the tenant seek funding; we weren't aware of the scope of the changes until receiving the plans last week, two weeks ago perhaps, after the last council meeting.

So it's a bit ... as Councillor Adey said the premise of what they're doing is not being questioned it's the process piece.

And it's similar to if, say the Lester Centre came to us and said can you support a grant request to fix the washers. It's something that we would need to look at as a civic building 

Councillor Niesh asked if there was a difference in the approach by the city if the facilities are run by Societies, noting of similarities between the Racquet Centre and the Golf Course. 

Ms. Miller noted that the situation with the Golf Course is somewhat different, noting of some complicating themes such as insurance and such.

"I think the situation with the Golf Course might be slightly different, I look the CFO to correct me on this. But I believe the Golf Course situation is they own part of the infrastructure and we own part of it, so it's a little bit different.

The lease is specific with respect to the civic buildings, that they are  city owned buildings so we would need to look at that. 

Any renovations or work done to them we insure them, it's our insurance so it makes it a little bit more complicated"

City Manager, Dr. Rob Buchan observed that at the moment a proper procedure had not been followed, along with the need for a business plan. 

"My understanding is that an appropriate process has not been followed actually to this point, for staff to recommend and support in a letter of support. 

There's issues such as the lease which need to be revisited to see if this can be accommodated.

The Business plan, are there any financial implications for the City.

So you know at this point, maybe deferring this until staff have had a chance to receive some more details so we can  better understand the implications to the city"

The Corporate Administrator indicated that staff had no issues in following up with the Racquet Centre towards their plans.

Mayor Pond noted of the process that is normally in place related to funding requests for the Port.

"I'm not sure how time sensitive it is in terms of the application to the Port. Usually there's an opportunity for the letters of support to follow while the Port  you know does their thing.

Would it be acceptable to Council to authorize a letter of support pending approval by staff.  

I'm just thinking that staff through the week, or before we meet next, make the determination that yeah it can proceed, it would be nice to have the letter of support go out as quickly as possible"  

Joining in on the discussion, Councillor Barry Cunningham spoke to his concerns over potential time sensitive issues.

"My concern is we've got a group of volunteers that are willing to do this work and get it done and if it's time sensitive I don't see any reason why we can't give them a letter of support, even if thought we haven't gone ahead with the project yet.

They can always pull the grant if they can't go ahead"

The Mayor then pulled the item from the Consent Agenda, so as to act on the issue,  and after some further discussion with the City Manager, the path forward on the topic was put to rest.

"I think Council could consider a resolution that says to send a letter of support in principle now, full support to be determined following a staff review"

The full documentation towards the Racquet Centre request, including the cost estimates, letter of support from nearby Prince Rupert Middle School and their PRPA grant request can be found from the Agenda Package from Monday night, starting on page 16.

The discussion towards the request can be reviewed through the City's video archive starting at the 50 minute mark.

More notes related to the Monday Council meeting can be reviewed through our archive page here.

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