Early in 2018, Maple Ridge voters will be able to vote against the city borrowing money for recreation facilities.
Or, by not voting against them within a 30-day time frame, they will give the city their tacit approval.
Residents will be choosing from a list of eight items, ranging from $25 million for an upgrade and additional ice sheet at Planet Ice Albion to $1 million for gathering places in the Silver Valley neighbourhood.
If 10 per cent of eligible voters oppose borrowing for a project, the city will not be able to go into debt to build that facility.
That’s the plan put forward by city hall, and the recommendations in a staff report, prepared by city manager of legislative services Laurie Darcus, was to be reviewed by council on Tuesday.
Darcus proposes a time period that will begin on Jan. 17 and end on Feb. 19. She said her time frame includes “some latitude” in the 30-day time limit. Because the 30 days would end on a Saturday, the deadline was extended to the following Monday.
Darcus said her goal is to ensure a fair process, which is also why she did not want to start in December, during the busy holiday season. The process can first be advertised on Jan. 12 and 17.
The province had to approve both the borrowing and what is called an alternative approval process, and the city received that approval on Nov. 16.
Mayor Nicole Read said she is comfortable it will be a fair process. What’s more, she said the public is clearly asking for more recreation facilities, and that the city has put together a bundle of projects that the community should get behind.
“I believe the public is going to be happy with the package we’ve put forward,” said Read. “I’m glad to see it go ahead.”
• $25 million – ice sheet addition;
• $10 million – Telosky Stadium synthetic fields;
• $10 million – Albion Community Centre;
• $3.5 million (additional) – Maple Ridge Leisure Centre upgrade;
• $2.5 million – Maple Ridge Senior Secondary track facility upgrades;
• $2.5 million – Hammond Community Centre renovation;
• $1 million – Silver Valley neighbourhood gathering places;
• $1 million – Whonnock Lake canoeing and kayaking facility improvement.
Staff recommends $6 million in borrowing for an outdoor pool be withdrawn from the alternative approval process, because not enough detail is known about the final design or costs.
If borrowing for a project is not approved, that would not necessarily kill a smaller project, said Read.
“It really depends on the dollar value – past a certain threshold it becomes difficult to take money out of reserves,” said Read.
The city first talked about borrowing $110 million to upgrade numerous recreation facilities in December 2015, and since then the projects and costs have evolved.
After more than two years of refining the list, voters will have their say.
“It’s been a bit of a process,” said Read, “but this is a big package for the city.”
The city will publicize details about the projects and create a website.