Maple Ridge council dials back civic centre design project by more than a million

Decides to spend only $525,000 on design work, instead of $2.2 million, in goal to get project shovel ready for federal $

Maple Ridge council decided Tuesday to go with only the basic designs of the new civic and cultural centre, with the option of spending more later if it means tapping into some of the federal funds.

An earlier staff report said that it would cost $2.2 million to prepare concept designs and cost estimates.

Instead, council decided it wanted a lower level of design costing $525,000.

“We pushed the architects to see what sort of bare minimum they could produce – that would get us by the design requirements,” so the city could apply for federal funding programs expected to be announced soon, said Mayor Nicole Read later.

“The original ($2.2 million) price tag would have taken us to a full design.”

Read though favoured doing the full design and said by opting for a more basic process, unknown costs could crop up in the future.

“This will be sort of a basic design plan that we’ll be able to include when we apply for funding.”

The cost for the entire civic and cultural centre planned for the downtown, including museum and archives space, post-secondary education space, a parkade, a youth wellness centre and Leisure Centre upgrades, could top out at $40 million.

The civic and cultural centre will be located next to the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre in the downtown.

But only building the parkade, wellness centre and civic facility could be half that.

Read said other cities are getting their projects shovel ready, that is ready to build, once federal money is available.

“If we continue to not put ourselves in a ready-to-build position, we will continue to be passed over for funding.”

The civic and cultural centre is the top project for seeking federal and provincial money because it’s considered to be eligible for many programs.

The city could decide later to spend more on design work if granting agencies demand more detailed plans or want to see a project more further advanced, in order to qualify for grants.

The civic and cultural centre is one of half a dozen rec projects, including new ice rinks, an aquatic centre, sports fields and community centres, being considered by the city.

As six-month public consultation is underway to see what the public prefers and to further narrow down costs.