Nanaimo council considers rebuilding Chase River activity centre

NANAIMO – Council put seismic upgrade plans on hold to consider options to build a new south end activity centre.

Seismic upgrades for a south-end activity centre are on hold as Nanaimo city officials consider constructing a new building.

City council will look at swapping out seismic upgrade plans for a rebuild of the 65-year old Chase River Activity Centre – a cost currently estimated at $760,000.

The south Nanaimo property, home of a Boys and Girls Club, ranks as one of the highest priorities for seismic upgrades in the city – second to the old city annex building on Franklyn Street. The Chase River Activity Centre was constructed as a fire hall in 1950 and includes a cinderblock tower which alone is definitely something with seismic issues, says Richard Harding, director of parks, recreation and environment.

Staff members report a seismic upgrade would cost an estimated $295,000, but would also tackle improvements like new windows and siding that would add new life to the building. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Vancouver Island would also contribute $100,000 toward the project with a 10-year lease of the site.

But Coun. Bill Bestwick questions if there’s better value in considering a rebuild of the activity centre, pointing out that with money slated for the upgrade they are almost halfway to a new building. He made a motion to get a report on options to build a new activity centre.

“I might rather spend $760,000 for a new building than $300,000 … on an old building that’s going to need more work, there’s no if, ands or buts about it,” he said.

City staff members will look into options to tear down and rebuild the activity centre, and look at demands for community space in the south end, with a report expected in January or February.