District has 15 months to complete building
With the clock ticking down on a government grant, Highlands is gearing up to get its community centre built.
Highlands council has started the process of rezoning soon-to-be donated land on the corner of Millstream Road and Finlayson Arm Road to make way for the centre.
Highlands landowner Fred York has offered to gift 20-acres of land to the District in exchange for allowing him to subdivide his property. That process is still ongoing.
Pressure is on for the district to build and complete a community centre — the provincial grant for the project expires in March 2013. The grant will cover 80 per cent of the cost up to $400,000.
The District was awarded the Towns for Tomorrow grant in the summer of 2008.
The rezoning has been passed on to the advisory planning commission. Once approved it will be back on the council table for a bylaw to be written.
“There is enough time to get this done,” said Mayor Jane Mendum. “We’ve had a (community centre) task force for a number of years and they have worked on it a lot and given a lot of consideration to it ... It is something that has long been looked at and wanted.”
The land is proposed for a P2 zoning status, the same as the municipal hall and the fire halls.
“The District would have to have a public process for there to be any other uses,” said planner Laura Beckett.
The P2 zoning includes other uses including schools. Coun. Marcie McLean asked to take the school zoning out of the land rezoning, but staff suggested this be done at a later date.
“The less complexity added to the application the faster (it can be processed),” said district administrator Chris Coates.
“The District is both the applicant and the approver,” Beckett said. “This is the polar opposing of a private developer (applying).”
With the rezoning process in its early stages, council also approved the recommendations of the community centre task force, including environmental features such as low-flush toilets, utilizing solar energy and exterior cobb walls.
Part of the stipulation of the grant is the community centre would need to address climate change and contribute to the overall health, sustainability and livability of the community.
Council is now seeking an architect to help finalize the designs so the project can move forward.
Talk of building a community centre has been in the works since the 1990s.