Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Betty and Carl Harris: Keep it simple

The following appeared in the August 1st, 2007, edition of the Western News:

There are enough opinions being presented on the Pen High auditorium/gym situation that we find it a little confusing.

Firstly, our objective was to keep what we have until replacements were in place. This is not a confusing scenario but rather a simple one. What has happened over the last few months is the fact people have taken sides and the whole thing has become confused.

Presently the city is making available a piece of land to be used for the new performing arts centre. This is a good and simple start. Next comes the funding which is very confusing. Various levels of government have made several statements that are basically not very clear. Financing is therefore in the early stages. The two- to three-year time frame for construction seems unrealistic when compared to other projects.

What happens if funding is delayed, or there is soil contamination, or water seepage from the creek? What happens if steel and concrete prices reach the sky? Any of these could delay the opening. The problem will be that when you find these out, the buildings will already be demolished.

With regards the gymnasium, we have already lost the south gym and Nanaimo Hall. Most displaced groups are not yet settled in. Also the pressure of wellness centres is increasing for all ages. What an error it would be if you have to build a new replacement gym in the near future.

Don’t forget the auditorium and gym are paid for.

We think the time has come for those involved to do some head scratching and pencil sharpening to find a way to delay the demolishing of these buildings until the possibility of a serious future scenario is turned into a simple one.