-From Mike Hicks, Chair, SEAPARC Commission
SEAPARC has made an offer to purchase the 23 acre Demamiel Creek Golf Course subject to a referendum to be held on April 30 for the Juan de Fuca and Sooke residents. Current playing fields and SEAPARC facilities are operating at full capacity and we have an opportunity to purchase the adjacent cleared and relatively level lands neighbouring SEAPARC.
This acquisition is a long term investment which will satisfy the land requirements for all future outdoor recreational projects. It will not result in a tax increase for Sooke or JDF residents and SEAPARC will spend the next two months communicating the plan. In addition to public meetings, residents may access information at www.crd.bc.ca/seaparc or e-mail SEAPARC Manager Steve Knoke email@example.com or SEAPARC Chair Mike Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Here is the plan:
SEAPARC is a partnership between the District of Sooke and the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area, serving residents from East Sooke to Port Renfrew. The annual budget to operate and maintain the pool, ice arena, bike park, skate board park and Stan Jones field is approx. $ 3. 6 million dollars of which $ 1 million is derived from user fees and $ 2.6 million is requisitioned from the taxpayers via property taxes. The taxes are apportioned between the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area and District of Sooke based on population resulting in a 75% Sooke / 25% JDF split.
The annual $ 3.6 budget million is apportioned between Operating and Capital Reserve. $ 3.1 million is used for Operating wages, repairs and maintenance and utilities and $ 500,000 in Capital Reserves is used for equipment replacement, building improvements, vehicle replacements, signage, major repairs , land purchase and building additions.
An average payment of $378,000 was paid to service the $ 4.4 million dollar pool debt established in year 1998. At this time, SEAPARC has no debt, $ 1 million in the Capital Reserve fund and an annual requisition of $ 500,000 towards the fund.
In anticipation of the debt retirement, SEAPARC commissioned a strategic plan to identify the recreational needs and desires of the community. The process,, involving staff, commission and community consultation, recommended the short term strategy of adding a 4000 square foot weight/activity /exercise room and a long term strategy of purchasing additional land for future recreational needs.[sam id=”15″ codes=”true”]The SEAPARC Commission have decided to maintain the tax requisition at the present level in order to build the weight/activity/exercise room addition and purchase the 23 acre former golf course adjacent to SEAPARC. The land would be financed over 15 years and it is hoped the activity room expansion would be built in the next three years. SEAPARC is forecasting that the present tax rate would be sufficient to fund the purchase and there would be no tax increase necessary to fund these two projects. It is also planned that the requisition would be re-examined after completion of the addition.
The owners of DeMamiel Creek Golf Course have accepted a $ 1 million dollar offer from SEAPARC subject to a referendum. Although the Commission, in the short term, will consider contracting-out the golf course operation on a break-even basis, the intermediate and long term vision is for future recreational fields for the expanding Sooke and Juan de Fuca population.
Currently Juan de Fuca residents have a mill rate of .498 and Sooke .878. SEAPARC will be borrowing $ 750,000 at 3% interest, amortized over 15 years. The annual payment of $ 61,000 will result in a cost of $4.80 each year for a home valued at $ 400,000 in the JDF and the annual cost of $8.40 for the same valued home in Sooke. The $ 61,000 would be allocated from the Capital Reserve Fund with the remaining $ 439,000 dedicated to funding the capital replacement items and expansion. There would not be an increase in the overall annual tax rate required to fund the land acquisition.[sam id=”15″ codes=”true”]The SEAPARC Commission fully appreciates that property taxes are high and have done all they can over the past few years to manage SEAPARC in a frugal, efficient manner. They also realize that the adjacent property could supply all the field requirements for the next 100 years.
Eighty years ago the Sooke Community Association had the foresight to purchase land for the recreational needs of Sooke and JDF residents. We have the opportunity to add to their legacy and through the upcoming referendum, planned for April 30, 2016, Sooke and the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area electorate will voice their opinion on this important decision. The Commission is hopeful that residents will recognize the value of this undertaking and support obtaining this key property for future generations.[sam id=”14″ codes=”true”]