Despite having created a new recreation service area for the Columbia Valley to make property taxes more equitable across the entire region, the Columbia Valley directors are keeping the old Canal Flats service area around until upgrades to the Canal Flats arena are paid off in full.
The reason is the jump in cost of the arena’s planned upgrade project, from $1 million to an unexpected $1,305,000, which the Village of Canal Flats council approved in December.
At the time, Canal Flats Chief Administrative Officer Brian Woodward told The Valley Echo that $157,000 of that increase was due to the need to completely replace the bleachers, while a number of smaller expenditures made up the balance.
“They have it all defined now and they’ve included the bleachers, which require complete replacement,” he said.
On January 3, the Columbia Valley directors voted that additional costs of up to $172,000 for the upgrades will be shared by the old Canal Flats Recreation Service Area. This, after voting in September to eliminate the Canal Flats recreation service area — which included the Village of Canal Flats and a portion of RDEK Electoral Area F with residents of Fairmont Hot Springs — and replace it by extending the larger Columbia Valley Recreation recreation service area.
But residents of the old Canal Flats Recreation service area will not actually see a cost increase, said RDEK Chief Financial Officer Shawn Tomlin. Instead, they will simply continue to pay an amount equitable to their current recreation service fees and not see the decrease promised by the new larger Columbia Valley Recreation Service Area until such time that the arena is paid off in full.
“In order to pay for the upgrade… the properties in the Canal Flats service area would pay approximately the same as they are paying now,” Tomlin told The Valley Echo in December.