Development plans for Hope Community Recreation Park have been temporarily put on hold.
Council passed a recommended resolution last Thursday directing staff to work with stakeholder groups to determine new priorities of work for the park, within current resource limitations, no later than Oct. 31, and bring these new priorities to council for endorsement.
“It’s clear that there has been a lot of controversy and stakeholder groups are concerned over the lack of agreement in the process,” said chief administrative officer John Fortoloczky.
“I know that you will never get 100 per cent agreement from the stakeholders and the public, but we can probably do this a better way or a less controversial way.”
Council approved the Hope Community Recreation Park concept design in April and directed staff to undertake remediating the venue seating area as the immediate priority. In addition to safety and liability concerns, this aspect of the project was chosen because Hope Motorsports Group had acquired 1,500 donated no-post barriers to reinforce the terraced seating area and increase spectator capacity at the Sports Bowl. The district committed to using them in the project design, however, the installation work was put out to tender. This request for proposals (RFP) has now been cancelled, but can be restarted if required at a later date.
Fortoloczky said stakeholder groups have recently raised concerns about the design, the ability for locals to bid on the job, the perceived lack of communication, and the Sports Bowl seating area as the priority.
“It is the most complex and quite frankly the most expensive aspect of the park,” he explained to council. “In one way, it would have been nice to tackle that first, however, such a large amount of concern has been shown. Thanks to that and the way it’s been approached, maybe you should reconsider that.”
Coun. Gerry Dyble expressed her confusion over the current status of the project. She said her understanding was that all stakeholder meetings had been done, priorities were identified, and development plans were moving forward.
“I’m feeling that this process is undermining what we directed staff to do and I’m not comfortable with that,” she said.
Coun. Donna Kropp also noted her disappointment over the situation, pointing out that several directions have been given to staff and it doesn’t appear that any of them have been followed.
“I want to see what council passes as a resolution followed through to the end,” she said. “I don’t know why there’s such a huge miscommunication, but I am not in favour of revisiting priorities.”
Kropp pointed out that user groups have met and discussed the priorities already many times. She said the direction they gave on the seating area upgrade and the things that were agreed upon, such as grass instead of gravel and fences for safety, have not been done or followed through.
Coun. Scott Medlock pointed out that the pushback from user groups in the late stages of the RFP process was due to “the tender being put out without that in between consultation.”
“The reason I think you didn’t get the feedback that you were looking for was because we didn’t get into one room and have conversations,” he told Fortoloczky. “We didn’t get to explain what our problems and concerns were, and we didn’t get to hear what others were. I think if that conversation had happened, greater ideas would have come out of that meeting.”
Moving forward, both Kropp and Medlock hope the district re-examines how the RFP process is handled. There are concerns that the current RFP limits the ability for local contractors to bid on the project since they can’t afford the performance and insurance bonds. Fortoloczky said these safeguards are put in place to “ensure greater performance for the ratepayers to ensure the job is done correctly.”
The district was awarded a $463,300 B.C. Community Recreation Program Grant in March 2012 to help improve Sixth Avenue Park in order to increase the overall health and wellness of residents. The project includes upgrades to the Sports Bowl, picnic area, trail network, and skate park. There’s also plans to create a bike skills area adjacent to the arena, bout win bike track, disc golf, mud pit/drag area, and off-leash dog area.