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Agassiz gym plan moving forward

MLA John Les and Mayor John Van Laerhoven celebrate the announcement that the provincial government awarded Kent with a $750,000 grant toward a new gymnasium.  - Observer file photo
MLA John Les and Mayor John Van Laerhoven celebrate the announcement that the provincial government awarded Kent with a $750,000 grant toward a new gymnasium.
— image credit: Observer file photo

Kent council is moving ahead in the next phase of planning for a gymnasium project.

On Monday night, council was unanimous in the decision to commit to the construction of the gym, which will be an expansion of the current Fitness/ Activity Centre. The project has been in the works for more than a year, and earlier this year Chilliwack MLA John Les came to town to award the District a grant for $750,000 from the provincial government.

But that won't be enough to complete the gym, which is expected to total $2.5 million.

But rather than turn to the individual taxpayer, the District recently struck a special fundraising committee. That group is tasked with approaching corporations, holding fundraisers and applying for further grant money.

"We're ambitious," CAO Wallace Mah told council, and the committee will be looking at all sources possible to raise $400,000 to help with the costs.

Fundraising for large projects is nothing new to local municipalities. Recently, the Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation held a massive fundraising drive for the Chilliwack General Hospital Foundation to cover a shortfall of $5 million. Locally, the Agassiz Library was built largely through the fundraising efforts of the Friends of the Library.

The fundraising committee for the gymnasium includes Mayor John Van Laerhoven (chair), Councillor Darcy Striker (alternate chair), Robert Stam, Tracey Paul, Bev Kennedy, Susan Spaeti, Mal Shephard, CAO Wallace Mah and Kent's Director of Community Services, Kerry Hilts.

In question period, a few members of the public questioned both the need for a gymnasium, and the potential cost to residents.

Councillor Duane Post also questioned Mah about the "worst case scenario."

"What might it cost for the District," he asked.

"It's kind of hard to establish how much it would cost," Mah answered, because it's hard to know how successful the fundraising campaign will be.

Councillor Holger Schwichtenberg said that the efforts will be worth it in the end, if a new facility is added to the community.

"I just wanted to say that this may seem daunting right now but right next to council is the library, which is a very successful project," he said. "It paid off, it was successful and the community was behind it and I'm really hoping this will be the same."

Councillor Lorne Fisher made a motion to commit to the construction, and that was seconded by Councillor Darcy Striker. Council voted all in favour.

They also voted all in favour of continuing to work with bingham + hill architects, awarding the company the design services for the contract.

Kerry Hilts reported that they have been good to work with to date, and that signing on with them now would save the District about $50,000 in the long run.

BHA has 40 years experience, he reported. The cost of their services will be $174,000 plus taxes, or seven per cent of the project cost.

Their services will include predesign, schematic design, design development, working drawing, bidding and construction contract, construction administration and they will be the continuous prime consultant in the project.

Now that council has approved the project's scope, the fundraising committee can begin its work. The District has a Community Recreation and Cultural Centre fundraising and sponsorship package available, which lists different ways to support the project.

A platinum sponsor, for example, would contribute $200,000, earning name rights for the facility for 25 years, custom signage in the gymnasium, five complimentary membership packages, a discount for employees, annual meeting room usage, and many other perks. Smaller donations, up to $249, will earn the sponsor a certificate of appreciation and a listing in the District's annual report. All donations will be issued a tax receipt.

While there is a committee, they are open to fundraising ideas.

 

 

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