Letters: Making the most of multi-use

Let’s work together to ensure the new facility will be the best that it can be

Dear Editor:

The new multi-use facility, which will be a replacement and expansion of the existing Lake Windermere Memorial Hall, is still in the conceptual and planning stage. The new facility will likely exceed 15,000 square feet, and provide space to almost all of the existing user groups in the current community hall, as well as offer expanded main hall space, which will allow many functions to grow and the performing arts sector to have an exciting new venue.  There will also be multi-purpose flexible use rooms — we are also considering 4,000 +/- square feet of fitness centre space, which represents less than one third of the total new building space.

The process the District of Invermere (DOI) council has used in planning and funding the new facility is unique: instead of investing a significant amount of time and money into a detailed design first and then requesting support from the community, we choose to bring a basic concept and a somewhat urgent need (the failing of the structure of the existing community hall) to the public and, if support for a new multi-use facility was gained (which it was), then we would figure out of all of the details about specific design, exact size, exact budget, and which groups would get dedicated space, and which groups would have the opportunity to share space. Although the exact specifics were not known before the referendum last November, we did clearly articulate at the two open houses that a potential partnership with the non-profit Valley Fitness Centre (VFC) was being explored, and that a new municipal library would only be considered in future phases, and that we were hoping not to include municipal offices in the new facility in any phase (especially if we could find a more viable option for managing the facility).

The VFC is not a business. The VFC is a non-profit society that provides both standard fitness gym operations as well as programming in, but not limited to, aerobics, yoga and spin — very similar to recreation programs offered by many towns and cities across Canada. The VFC pays a large number of independent contractors to provide these services. Rather than compete with private business, they help to support it!  Unlike many other public institutions (i.e. ice arenas and libraries), the VFC does not receive direct operating funding from government, but rather relies on membership or user fees to cover their operational costs.

In addition to full annual memberships, there are also “punch card” and promotional membership available that make it more affordable for some people. It was not that many years ago that the Invermere library was not a municipal library, and they used to charge fees for library cards. Perhaps, in the future, there is the opportunity for the fee structure for VFC to change, if they get some public support in the form of new space?

There are many public facilities and services that are operated by non-profit societies (i.e. Eddie Mountain Arena) or by private companies (i.e. Columbia Valley Landfill). Any suggestion that public services can only be done by union employees is factually incorrect. The library, as an example, has only been unionized for one year now.

Any future building improvements for the Invermere library will need regional financial support, as over 55 per cent of the library usage is from outside of Invermere. The regional support that the DOI has secured from the RDEK for the new multi-use facility is from recreation tax, and cannot be used to create library space. There is work that needs to be done on the future of regional library services in the Columbia Valley. This is going to take a considerable amount of time and effort before there is regional funding for new library space.

If a citizen or group wants to be part of the decision-making process, write letters to DOI council, show up at meetings and open houses, ask questions — find out as much information as you can, maybe even talk to individual members of council to understand the background behind certain decisions. Writing letters to the editor or posting on Facebook opinions that have incorrect or only partial information and seem to criticize a local non-profit and/or council is probably the least effective way to participate in the process. Let’s work together to ensure the new facility will be the best that it can be, while still keeping in mind what is realistic and possible based on a limited budget and an unlimited list of potential uses and user groups!

Gerry Taft, Mayor

District of Invermere

Just Posted

The end of an Echo
The end of an Echo

Invermere Valley Echo shuts down operations in Columbia Valley

Creating a new narrative for Canal Flats

Economic development consultant hired, lists vision for next 90 days

Princeton wildfire phots courtesy of Debbie Lyon.
UPDATE: Crews battle as wildfires rage in B.C. Interior

Crews brace for another day on B.C. firelines as no let up is likely

VIDEO: B.C. wildfires by the numbers
VIDEO: B.C. wildfires by the numbers

Wildfires continue to engulf regions of B.C.’s forests and communities.

Aerial view south of Williams Lake Friday afternoon shows dry lightning storm passing over, leaving fire starts behind. Lightning sparked more than 100 new fires Friday. (Black Press)
VIDEO: More than 180 wildfires burning across B.C.

Firefighters from other provinces called in to assist

DTSS Grad March 2017
DTSS Grad March 2017

DTSS Grad March 2017

59 cats seized in Chase
59 cats seized in Chase

59 neglected and injured cats were seized from a property in Chase

(Flickr/Andreas Eldh)
Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell dead at age 52

The singer/songwriter passed away early Thursday morning in Detroit

Paying tribute to a primeval passage
Paying tribute to a primeval passage

Uninterrupted celebrates the Adams River sockeye run in an extraordinary way.

UPDATE: Pemberton Music Festival cancelled, no automatic refunds
UPDATE: Pemberton Music Festival cancelled, no automatic refunds

In the past, the music festival located in Pemberton drew large crowds last year of 180,000 fans

Photo by: WeissPaarz.com
Medical wait times cost B.C. patients $2,300 each

New Fraser Institute report places B.C. at second worst in costs associated with long wait times

UPDATE: 22 killed at Ariana Grande concert
UPDATE: 22 killed at Ariana Grande concert

Witnesses reported hearing two loud bangs coming from near the arena’s bars at about 10:35 p.m.

A university study finds that about nine per cent of Canada’s Grade 11 and 12 students – roughly 66,000 teens – have driven within an hour of drinking and 9.4 per cent drove after using marijuana.                                 Photo: Now-
Leader file
One in three Canadian high school students have rode with drinking drivers, study reveals

Nearly one in five rode with a driver who’d been smoking pot

Top court to hear federal government’s appeal on residential school records
Top court to hear federal government’s appeal on residential school records

A lower court judge ruled to destroy the stories after 15 years unless consent is given to preserve

Most Read