© Paul Hutchings
Pasadena Mayor Otto Goulding, left, discusses the approval of the town’s new recreation centre at the Monday, Oct. 21, 2013 public council meeting with program clerk Sharon Brown and Coun. Derrick Anthony.
PASADENA — Pasadena town council approved the construction of the new recreation centre Monday night.
After a lengthy discussion, councillors voted for the motion to move forward with plans to start building the facility using an $8-million provincial grant, with the cost overrun of just over $1.2 million fully covered by the town.
Coun. Barry Walsh said the funding will be obtained from the approximately $1 million the town already has from a recent property sale and the remainder will be borrowed.
Councillors, including Mayor Otto Goulding, voted 4-2 for the motion. With Coun. David Decker absent from the meeting, the dissenting votes came from councillors Keith Hillier and Malcolm Turner, who both said they were for the idea of a new recreation centre, but not one that required loans town taxpayers may end up paying for in the future.
Walsh said it would likely be a while before the town needs to take out loans to complete the recreation centre.
“We have money in the bank now for it and we won’t need to borrow for probably another two years,” he said. “As a project like this goes along, bills are submitted, we may not have to pay those bills for another two years.”
As far as increased residential taxes to help pay for any cost overruns, Walsh said council only has a rough idea of what the operating costs will be of the new facility at this point, and it will do everything it can in the meantime to keep those costs, both operational and construction, to a minimum.
It’s those operational costs that Turner said could be a problem in the future. He predicted the project could run more than $2 million over budget with the prices of everything going up. He said the centre would need to be open seven days a week which would necessitate more staff and more equipment.
“The concept we have now is expensive. It’s a great idea, but I just don’t think the town can afford it,” Turner told council Monday. “I’d like to see us look at a multi-faceted gymnasium.”
Hillier agreed, saying that a lot of construction projects in the province go over budget. In his view, the budget increased for furnishings and equipment, the HST rebate changed and nothing is included for cost overruns.
“All this alone could leave us on the hook for another $1.3 million,” he said. “So we could be tripling our debt, we seem to be going into this blind.”
He added that his research shows similar structures built in Atlantic Canada have been built more cheaply.
Other councillors praised the project. Coun. Derrick Anthony said it could be expensive, but he sees it as a way to move forward as a town, while deputy mayor Gemma Walsh said it was too good of a project to pass up.
Barry said going back to the drawing board for a cheaper design was out of the question, as the town has already spent nearly $450,000 on the project so far, with architectural and design fees. He said the project could be started by spring at the latest.