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Lewis Centre renovation expenses will be decided by taxpayers

Courtenay residents are going to be asked whether they want the city to borrow money to renovate the Lewis Centre.

The City will use the alternative approval process to find out if citizens support borrowing up to $4.2 million for upgrading and expanding the Lewis Centre, and on Monday, council voted to establish elector response forms and to determine 18,021 as the total number of electors to which the approval process applies.

Council also established the deadline for receiving responses as Sept. 26 at 4:30 p.m.

The loan authorization bylaw for the Lewis Centre received three readings in early July, and it received statutory approval Aug. 8.

The bylaw authorized council to carry out the Lewis Centre renovation and expansion project  and to borrow up to $4.2 million and acquire all such real property, easements, rights-of-way, licences and rights of authority that may be required.

Council may proceed with the adoption of the bylaw unless at least 10 per cent — or 1,802 — of the electors indicate that council must obtain the assent of the electors through a referendum before proceeding.

Coun. Larry Jangula voted against the alternate approval process, as he felt it made more sense and would cost less to do a referendum in November to coincide with the municipal elections.

"I've been concerned about this method of doing this before," he said.

Coun. Manno Theos feels this process gives people a chance to tell council how they feel about the project.

"I have heard from people concerned about spending right now with economies around the world in quite a bit of disarray," he said. "This is the chance for the public to give us their views on what I feel is a core service and I feel is a good expenditure. If the public feels they want to have more input and more say, this is the opportunity to come forward and let us know."

The first phase of the Lewis Centre project includes work on a wellness centre, large and small multi-purpose rooms and storage, improved washrooms, designated staff spaces and an improved lobby space and entry.

The entire renovation and expansion project is expected to cost about $5.4 million. One million dollars would come from Community Works Fund gas tax reserves to fund mechanical and ventilation upgrades.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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