Decision delayed on paddle centre

NANAIMO – City council withheld approval-in-principle for a $5.1-million boathouse and paddling centre while it considers its priorities.

Proponents of a new paddling centre are concerned about losing momentum as city politicians decide whether the $5.1-million project ranks as a community priority.

Nanaimo city council voted last week to take time to consider whether a new multimillion-dollar boathouse and paddling centre is one of its priorities. Without a verdict, the Nanaimo Boathouse Society has no approval in principle to move forward with groundwork for the proposed two-storey centre, including fundraising and public consultation.

While the group can’t progress, Camela Tang, president of the Nanaimo Boathouse Society says it will continue to work on a potential fall fundraising campaign and engage the public and stakeholders about the project.

The worry is lost momentum and opportunity to collaborate with other organizations if a decision isn’t made on the paddling centre by September, according to Tang.

“We will carry on doing our work in anticipation of approval so that we can proceed,” Tang said. “And we very much want to do it this year, otherwise with a new council this could set us back … and that’s the loss of momentum we are very concerned about.”

The new boathouse and paddling centre is proposed to float on a city-leased water lot on the Newcastle Channel, offering water sport enthusiasts a hub to socialize, train and store boats. The cost of constructing the facility would be raised by the boathouse society and the building would be owned by the municipality. A staff report shows the centre would cost the city $100,000 annually in management fees and between $50,000 and $100,000 each year for maintenance and asset renewal.

Nanaimo city council voted 7-1 to withhold approval in principle until it considers its community priorities.

Coun. Diane Brennan opposed the vote, calling the centre “one of those iconic kind of projects we would be known for.”

A staff report is expected to go back to council on priorities.

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