Abbotsford city council was slated to hear from the public Monday afternoon before deciding the fate of a YMCA project that's been in the works since 2010.
The city signed a memorandum of understanding with the YMCA in late 2010 to build a community centre in 2015 that would include a 25metre swimming pool, sports gym, fitness area and meeting rooms along with recreational and social programming.
However, council must decide the fate of the project and whether to include it in the 2013 budget and five-year financial plan.
City staff recommends the project as a means to meet Abbotsford's increasing recreational needs in a cost effective manner.
The total cost of the project, including operational costs, is $175 million, but the city would contribute 10 per cent of the funds by paying $17.5 million, equal to half the capital costs to build the facility.
All the operating costs will be absorbed by the YMCA, which will result in saving the city more than $47.5 million over a 40-year period.
The city's contribution would be divided and earmarked in the 2015 and 2016 budgets.
Mark Taylor, Abbotsford general manager of parks, recreation and culture, said no new property tax hikes are planned to cover the city's capital costs.
Rather, other aspects of the existing capital budget would be deferred or cut to find the money, said Taylor.
Making sacrifices in other areas would generate $9.6 million by 2015, he said.
However, the city would still have to find some way to come up with the remaining $7.9 million in the future.
The land for the project is expected to be provided by Fraser Health at the site of the former MSA General Hospital on McCallum road.
A review of the Abbotsford parks and recreation master plan indicates that the city has a gap in recreational programs and there's a growing lack of playing fields, ice arenas, pools and sports gyms to meet the population's needs, said Taylor.
Recreational services are key to providing youth with healthy choices, which act as an alternative to getting caught up in criminal activity, said Taylor.
However, some councillors have expressed concerns with the project about whether the city can afford to take on the project given the difficult economic climate and accompanying taxpayer fatigue.
Other residents critical of the project argue that the city's share of the capital costs will go over budget and that Fraser Health does not have the right to allocate land that was ultimately paid for by taxpayers.
If the YMCA project is approved, it is slated to break ground in late 2014 and open in the fall of 2016.
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