Powell River Recreation Complex’s rehabilitation plan is underway, with public consultation in full stream.
The purpose of the plan is to develop a clear direction when dealing with required improvements to the facility now and in the future.
An architectural firm, Architecture49, has been hired to conduct the study. Stella Nicolet, Vancouver managing principal from Architecture49, said what is underway is a long-term planning exercise and needs assessment of the existing facility so it can be kept operational for another 20 to 30 years.
Nicolet said public engagement is a launching point for the process, including meeting with recreation complex staff members, the public and elected officials.
“We want to understand from the community what’s most important and also what they see as components of the facility they would not want to change, and then things that hopefully, they’ll be able to secure funding to change,” said Nicolet.
She said the architectural firm has been able to do some wonderful renovations and additions to similarly aged facilities. It has also worked on features such as improved accessibility.
“It’s things that would seem basic if we were building from scratch,” said Nicolet. “We use facilities much differently that we used to.”
She said the target audience is broad in terms of age, plus physical, mental and emotional abilities. It’s broad in terms of appealing to many cultural backgrounds and making sure people from different economic backgrounds are also well represented and welcome.
Speaking prior to a general community public meeting on January 22, Nicolet said the architectural team would be sharing some information with participants about demographics in the community and what they are seeing as the potential future of the region.
“Then, we are going to elicit feedback from everyone who shows up about what they like about the facility, areas where there might be some improvement, and then some more free-form notes and content about things the community might dream about,” said Nicolet. “It may never happen but we’d like to hear all of the dreams, the visions and the blue sky. Then, we’ll filter it through the rest of the process, and make sure if changes are being made, that opportunities are captured so there isn’t a project done to fix one thing and then five years later, someone says now we need to introduce this other concept. It’s very much about creating a long-term plan.”
The ultimate plan will take into account what the community has said is most important, said Nicolet.
“This is just the first step and we have a couple of other opportunities where we’ll meet with the public to get additional feedback,” she added. “We’ll run some ideas past them and we’ll be in contact with staff, who are helping us filter information all of the time. They have the realities of how the space is currently being used.”
Nicolet said the current idea is having a study available by late spring or early summer.
In terms of the Powell River Recreation Complex facility, Nicolet said “it has good bones,” meaning that foundationally, it is sound.
“It just needs some polishing up and sprucing up,” she added.
Nicolet said she is excited by the process for which Architecture49 has been hired.
“It’s like a giant puzzle; there are so many positives and so many strengths of this facility as it exists today,” said Nicolet. “To be able to take those strengths and make them even better and make them serve the community even more is really exciting. It’s an amazing facility for this size of community. To have these facilities and opportunities is really wonderful.”
The Powell River Recreation Complex rehabilitation plan survey, soliciting input from residents, is still online at participatepr.com and will be available until February 21. More than 500 responses have been received for the survey.