Google G.R. Pearkes Recreation Centre is among four recreation centres that will undergo an examination as part of Saanich’s public facilities review underway since early May.

Saanich hopes to build on public input during facilities review

Saanich has added two additional dates to seek public feedback about the current state and future direction of public facilities, such as Municipal Hall, emergency services building and recreational facilities.

Under the original time table, residents had until Friday to participate in the first phase of a public consultation phase. The District of Saanich Wednesday added two additional dates: May 23, 4 to 7 p.m. at Saanich Commonwealth Place, and May 25, 3:30-6:30 p.m. at G.R. Pearkes Recreation Centre.

Residents interested in attending can learn more at saanich.ca/facilityplan.

“Overall, the public facilities are in good shape,” said Paul Thorkelsson, chief administrative officer, in an interview. This said, needs and expectations of the community continue to change and this review will help the district to respond to those changes, he added.

The review aims to accomplish three goals: ensure delivery of services; help Saanich manage the maintenance, renovation and construction of facilities in an affordable and sustainable manner; and rank priorities with a view to reducing risk. With this review, Saanich tries to be proactive, the district said in a release. “Reacting to the repair and maintenance needs of individual buildings as they arise is not efficient or cost-effective,” it read.

The review will assess whether Saanich’s public buildings offer enough space for the next 20 years. Another question concerns the age of Saanich’s public buildings. Some are more than 50 years old.

While the district says that it has maintained those buildings well, it would like to know whether it needs to do more. Finally, the review will also consider the state of facilities that deliver emergency services such as police, fire and public works in asking whether they perform adequately under stress.

A review of the background material sees public facilities fall into four categories: park and public works; public safety; government and administration; and recreation.

The material identifies Saanich’s Public Works Yard to be in “poor” condition. “Buildings have long outlived usefulness,” it read. When asked about the likelihood of Saanich having to invest in a new public works yard, Thorkelsson said it would be premature to pre-suppose outcomes while the process was still unfolding.

Saanich’s public safety buildings, as well as its government and administrative buildings, appear to be in “fair” condition. Present needs for Saanich’s police station and three fire halls include more work and storage space. Finally, the material rates all of Saanich’s four recreation centres in “good” condition.

The current consultation process has seen the district stage public engagement sessions starting May 3. The last of these 10 engagements will take place Friday at Municipal Hall between 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saanich residents can also participate by filling out an online survey.

Once the current public consultation process has concluded, Saanich will draft a master plan, which it will then present to the public for additional feedback. Plans call for a final report by the end of the calendar year.

“Just as homeowners need to maintain their properties to protect their investment, we need to do the same as a municipality,” said Thorkellson.

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