B.C. government paying for part of Lewis Centre work in Courtenay

Mayor Larry Jangula gladly accepts a $400,000 cheque from Comox Valley MLA Don McRae to help pay for an expansion and renovation at the Lewis Centre in Courtenay. - Renée Andor
Mayor Larry Jangula gladly accepts a $400,000 cheque from Comox Valley MLA Don McRae to help pay for an expansion and renovation at the Lewis Centre in Courtenay.
— image credit: Renée Andor

Courtenay taxpayers will pay less for the Lewis Centre renovation and expansion project thanks to a considerable chunk of change from the Province.
Comox Valley MLA Don McRae handed over a cheque for $400,000 to Mayor Larry Jangula on Wednesday.
The grant comes from the Ministry of Community, Sport, and Cultural Development's Community Recreation Program, and Jangula said this money will take some of the project's financial burden off taxpayers.
"It's really good because getting us $400,000 means that our taxpayers will not have to pay that, so it'll mean less borrowing," said Jangula.
The renovation project is expected to cost $5.4 million in total with about $1 million coming out of the Community Works Fund gas tax reserves. A further $4.2 million was going to come from new borrowing, which Courtenay residents would pay back over time.
But with this grant, City director of financial services Tillie Manthey said the amount the City borrows will drop down to $3.8 million, causing a reduction in the City's annual loan payment, and in turn, a reduction in the cost to taxpayers.
The renovation and expansion project includes adding a new building at the back of the centre, providing a new weightroom and space for meeting, storage, crafts and special needs. The existing centre will undergo extensive renovations as well.
McRae said this funding is not for any particular aspect of the project; instead, the City can use it for whichever part it sees fit.
He said he grew up using the Lewis Centre facilities and he's pleased council made the project a priority.
The Community Recreation Program will provide $30 million to 98 projects throughout the province. McRae said he started talking to Minister of Community, Sport, and Cultural Development Ida Chong about 25 minutes after Premier Christy Clark announced the program in September.
"As soon as I saw that $30-million grant being announced I knew it was my job, as MLA for the Comox Valley, to see if I could get as many dollars for the Comox Valley as possible," said McRae.

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