A new proposal could see a partnership between Aragon Properties and the Cordova Bay Community Club to replace the 77-year-old centre with a new one as part of Aragon’s 385-unit development on the former Trio gravel quarry of 773 Cordova Bay Rd.
The District of Saanich will also play a key role in the CBCC-led proposal, as they have been asked to donate a piece of land towards the deal.
It’s a sharp turn in direction for the leadership group of Cordova Bay Community Club at 941 Sutcliffe Rd.
For 17 years the badminton-focused group who run the club have sought to replace the tired building with a new facility. And for most of that time, the club has faced opposition from a group of Sutcliffe Road neighbours who say it’s too quiet of a street to house a bustling new centre.
When the application came before Saanich council as a committee of the whole item in December, those for and against filled chambers beyond capacity. With 141 people flowing out into the hallway of municipal hall, council postponed the item to hold it at a larger venue. However, CBCC pulled the application three days before the rescheduled special session was to be held in the Garth Homer auditorium on Feb. 18, explained CBCC president Ron Jordan.
With Saanich staff not recommending the rezoning application, and so many people in opposition, it prompted the CBCC to look elsewhere for a new option.
Instead, the CBCC group looked into acquiring the Saanich-owned 11,000 square-foot vacant lot in the 700 block of Cordova Bay Road (Lot 2, Section 42 of the Lake District) that sits adjacent to the Aragon site. The lot has been for sale since council approved it as surplus in April of last year. Jordan says CBCC would in turn pass it to Aragon as equity towards a new rec centre in its multi-million proposed development, he explained.
“We’ve made a formal request Saanich give [Lot 2, Section 42) to us, and we’ll give it to [Aragon] as payment for us to build a facility,” Jordan said. “We submitted a letter to Saanich.”
Jordan believes Aragon could use the lot to add a few more homes to its high-density development.
Aragon principal Lenny Moy didn’t respond to the Saanich News by deadline but Jordan believes Moy wants to incorporate a recreation centre in the expansive, high-density Aragon development. The April 11, 2016 council agenda also states Aragon had expressed interest in Lot 2, but that a public call for proposals should be considered, though there has been no sale as of yet.
By moving the expansive plans off of Sutcliffe Road, which called for a new 18,000 square-foot recreation centre for badminton, pickle ball, table tennis and other activities, it would avoid the ire of the Sutcliffe Road opponents.
Larry Gontovnick, president of the Cordova Bay Association for Community Affairs, said the CBA supports the move of the community centre to the Aragon site and has written a letter of support to Saanich council.
It means a series of changes from the original plan, including CBCC asking to borrow $400,000 from Saanich interest-free, something that has been done for other community initiatives such as turf soccer fields. The equity could come from new sources, such as the potential sale of the CBCC land and building at 941 Sutlcliffe Rd.
“It would be a community centre with a badminton component, with various programming,” Jordan said. “I’ve heard from Cordova Bay 55-Plus that they could add or use space there too.”
He said if there’s 400 to 500 people using the space, that’s a lot of people seeking program and activity spaces.
Cordova Bay Village, in general, is in a state of flux right now as a four-storey development application on Doumac Avenue was withdrawn in February while architect Alan Lowe and a developer have submitted plans for a major redevelopment of the Cordova Bay Plaza.
“We’re just waiting, a lot of people are waiting, the ball right now is with Saanich,” Jordan said.