City abandons hub concept for its new Timms Centre

Council member blames 'closed-door' discussions for lack of public participation

After nearly two years of negotiations, Langley City Council has abandoned the concept of a “community hub” as part of the Timms Community Centre renewal project.

“We wanted to partner (with outside associations), we wanted the community hub to work, but it became apparent that the people we were working with were trying to find ways to get our of their contract, or get out of the negotiations” said Councillor Gayle Martin.

Originally, the plan had been to partner with community groups to occupy space in the building, creating a one-of-a-kind hub of community life.

“It’s a wasted two years of a piece of land beside city hall that is bare,” she said, noting that she did not consider the failure to be due to fault on the part of the City or city staff.

However, Councillor Dave Hall criticized the closed-door nature of the negotiations,  many of which were embargoed under contract talks, blaming the failure on a process he felt discouraged active participation of council and the public.

He voted in favour of a motion to proceed with an updated project scope, but requested city staff return to council with details on the total cost of staff time and consulting fees during negotiations.

Councillor Jack Arnold cautioned against being critical towards negotiators on both sides of the project.

“They were just trying to get the best deal they could, and so were we. It just didn’t work.”

The most recent report to council — received unanimously by all members at the Dec. 16 regular meeting — finalizes the scope of the project, which is currently in the process of seeking a project manager and slated for occupancy in winter 2015. According to the report the City hopes to award the construction contract by summer 2014.

The completed facility will measure 29,390 square feet, which includes 4,145 square feet renovated from existing space in the Fraser Valley Regional Library. Plans have been amended to include a new 7,500 square foot gymnasium and bleachers, 68 additional underground parking stalls and a raised running track inside the gym. As well, the final product will be built to accommodate the possibility of adding a second storey in the future.

The estimated budget cost for the project now sits at approximately $14.3 million, slated to come from casino proceeds, capital works reserves, off-street parking reserves and $150,000 from the 2013 unused budget.

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