A Little Qualicum River Village resident feels the area doesn’t need another community centre in the region right now.
Thomas Ivanore is against the plan by the Corcan Meadowood Residents Association to get the Regional District of Nanaimo to build a Meadowood Community Centre using Electoral Area F Community Works Funds.
Ivanore said the available funds should be spent on building another road access in the area for safety reasons. He pointed out that there’s already two community centres nearby — the Christian Fellowship and the Lighthouse Community Hall.
“They are just 20 minutes away from where we live,” said Ivanore. “We’ve got two already there so why do we need for another one? We are the largest user of the two community centres. When we have our meetings we have to go out of the community to one of the centres because we get around 200 to 300 people.”
Ivanore said based on the initial design of the proposed Meadowood Community Centre, it will not have the capacity to accommodate a huge gathering. Creating it, he added, will also negatively impact the other centres that currently are barely making it.
“Those two facilities are struggling before the COVID,” said Ivanore. “Now because of COVID they’re struggling even more.”
The proposed Meadowood Community Centre, which will be located within the Qualicum River Estates Village Centre, was approved by the RDN board last month and is now in the tendering stage.
The president of the Corcan and Meadowood Residents Association, Chris Burger, said they need the centre as they live in the most isolated part of the regional district and that the COVID pandemic has heightened that need, as most residents would prefer to stay in the community instead of going to ther centres.
The preliminary estimated cost to build the centre was at $1.35 million in 2018 but that amount could go up to $1.5 million.
Electoral Area F (Errington, Coombs, Hilliers) director Leanne Salter supported the project, initially rejected by RDN staff last December as the CMRA’s proposed business plan was not feasible to sustain management and operation of the centre.
Work has begun to replace the Little Qualicum River Park bridge bordering the Corcan and Meadowood areas. The bridge is being built under the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure standards but only for low-volume traffic.
RDN manager for emergency services, Catherine Morrison, said once completed, the bridge could provide an alternative access route for emergency response but the road is in poor condition and would require upgrades and maintenance to make it an evacuation route. It’s not going to be open to regular traffic.
Ivanore said improving the roads leading to the new bridge should be a top priority.
“We’ve got a bridge but we can’t get to it from either side,” said Ivanore. “We’ve got a bridge that’s of no value. We’ve got the same problem, one way in, one way out.”
Ivanore wants the proposed Community Works Funds for the community centre to be invested on a secondary access.
“We are in a life-and-death situation,” he said.
Ivanore plans to raise this issue at the RDN board meeting on Sept. 9.
Morrison said that Electoral Area F has been prioritized for developing evacuation route planning with access concerns to the highway, and on way in/out communities.
Residents are recommended to register for the new RDN Emergency Alert system (Voyent Alert) to receive alerts through the app, text message, voice call or email for critical events such as wildfires. Registration for the service is free and anonymous.