A newly-proposed community place of gathering in Summerland has received a nod from School District 67, bringing it one step closer to fruition.
During Tuesday’s regular board meeting, the school district board approved the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between District of Summerland, School District 67, Interior Health and South Okanagan Division of Family Practice, regarding the proposed Summerland Community Recreation and Health Centre.
The centre is described as a way to fulfill many community needs including the replacement of the Summerland Aquatic and Fitness Centre, a new high school gymnasium, clinic space for primary health care teams as well as other emerging needs such as child care spaces, youth services and other health care related needs.
“That’s how the discussions really evolved; hey we need a pool, you’re talking about a gym, and maybe we can just put something together to make a facility that’s really versatile and multi-use,” said SD67 chair, James Palanio.
This memorandum, if completed, will signify a willingness and intent by all parties to collaborate to create this community hub.
In September 2019, the Summerland Review reported that the District of Summerland, along with the Okanagan Skaha School District, the Penticton Indian Band, the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen and the South Okanagan Similkameen Division of Family Practice were in favour of signing the agreement in principle.
Additionally in September, the Review also reported that 12,000 people in Summerland and Penticton were without a family doctor, and that this number was expected to reach 22,000 people in three to five years.
“The hope is that you can have something designed that could, at some point, be added on to or expanded and be able to encompass the needs of some of these other entities, and then create that community hub,” said Palanio.
“The location is amazing there for something like this… I hope it comes to fruition, it could be a very neat addition to the downtown core up there.”
As it stands now there is no timeline for this new centre.
The topic of the Summerland Secondary School gym also came up at the meeting, and the Ministry has approved SD67 to start formulating a business plan with regards to it’s replacement.
“Our director of facilities, Doug Gorcak, is going to start putting together everything required to get that business plan going, so we have some costs and some updated designs,” said Palanio.
Because this project has been on the books for upwards of 17 years, some designs and cost estimates are already in place. However, Palanio said these are now completely irrelevant, and the board is forced to start from scratch.
“He’s got a little bit of a head start on what he needs, but basically what we did is we gave him the approval to go ahead and start investigating what that’s going to look like,” said Palanio.
The SD67 board chair said this project will “very likely” entail a brand new gym.