DISTRICT of North Vancouver council gave staff the green light to work on the loan and the design for the new $49-million William Griffin Community Centre last week.
The consolidation of William Griffin and the Delbrook Community Recreation Centre could leave the district $28 million in debt, depending on what happens at Delbrook, according to the district's chief financial officer Nicole Deveaux.
Without the offset of development at Delbrook, the cost of the new centre would leave owners of an average district home facing a one-time $46 tax levy. However, shovels in the ground at Delbrook could mean no tax increase and an additional $5 million in the district's reserves, according to Deveaux.
Council scrapped plans to renovate William Griffin earlier this year, opting for a total replacement of the building.
"Severe rotting" at the pool's end walls and "significant signs of deterioration" in the building's sub-structure have left William Griffin in urgent need of replacement, according to North Vancouver recreation commissioner Heather Turner.
The fate of Delbrook was a point of contention, with some residents requesting the neighbourhood be spared from development.
"Non-sale and (non-) development should be an option," said Lisa Faloon while addressing council.
The district has made no formal plans for the land, but things will not remain as they are, according to Coun. Mike Little.
"Status quo will not be on the table," Little said. Redeveloping the land would squander a chance to fill a neighbourhood void, according to Diana Bellhouse. The long-time neighbourhood resident called the space "the only possible remaining land for any park."
Other residents accused council of having already decided to develop the land to fund the new William Griffin centre.
"There has been no decision on Delbrook," Mayor Richard Walton assured the gallery.
"This will be a publicly driven process. It will not be a developer-driven process," said Coun. Alan Nixon, who promised very extensive public engagement.
Nixon, who bristled at complaints alleging a lack of council transparency, said the Delbrook centre could potentially be turned into single-family lots or an apartment building.
Due to the high price of a new William Griffin facility, Nixon said he would not support the project without some equity transfer.
The district's move to rebuild the William Griffin centre appears to give city residents and competition swimmers a little less room to manoeuvre.
Earlier this month, City of North Vancouver council discussed the possibility of pooling resources with the districts of North and West Vancouver to secure funding for a new 50-metre pool at the Harry Jerome Community Recreation Centre.
Coun. Pam Bookham referred to District of North Vancouver involvement with the Harry Jerome pool as "the lynchpin" in giving city residents an Olympic-sized pool. "If you can't get them on board, it's not going to happen," Bookham said.
Calling the William Griffin centre a "tremendous asset for the entire western side of the district," Coun. Roger Bassam pledged to see the centre built, even if redevelopment fails at Delbrook.
With potential development projects earmarked for Seylynn and Marine Drive, Coun. Robin Hicks asked if it would be fair to shield Delbrook from the slate of district development.
"Should one small community have the benefit of not having any development?" he asked.
Coun. Lisa Muri said council was planning to deliver a state of the art community facility, but deciding how to pay for it would be determined by feedback from residents.
The motion to proceed with a detailed design and public engagement passed unanimously.
Coun. Doug MacKay-Dunn was absent from the meeting.