City seeks private partner for trade centre

West Sound defender Jackie Triplett forced former Saint kicker Larry Moody to rush his punt, kicking it into the face mask of his own teammate. - Photo by Jesse Beals
West Sound defender Jackie Triplett forced former Saint kicker Larry Moody to rush his punt, kicking it into the face mask of his own teammate.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

A major trade and exhibition centre and recreation facility may be on the way, but it’s not certain whether the projects will be located at the Cloverdale Fairgrounds as originally planned.

The city initially wanted to build a 650,000-sq.ft. trade and exhibition centre at 176 Street and 60 Avenue, but costs have almost doubled from $28 million to more than $50 million.

Original plans also called for a multi-million-dollar recreation centre for the area.

The city’s finance committee voted last month to defer the development plan until other financing options could be explored.

On Monday, city staff said a preferred approach is to solicit financing from the private sector for the projects.

However, it may mean the projects won’t be located in Cloverdale as originally planned.

“It may lead to a conclusion that the project should be constructed at a location other than the fairgrounds (for example, City Centre or South Westminster),” the report states.

Coun. Bob Bose opposes the plan based on economics.

“This is not the time to be spending money in an overheated economy,” Bose said, adding there are other concerns within the city that should be included in the budget.

“I’m sorry, but we have other priorities.”

Coun. Judy Higginbotham said she felt “betrayed” by the proposal, which fails to keep a promise to Cloverdale residents. She said a lot of planning and public consultation has already been completed for the development of the fairgrounds site.

“Everything we’ve done to date kind of negates itself,” Higginbotham said.

Coun. Marvin Hunt supported the staff proposal.

“I’m pleased that staff doesn’t want to build a white elephant,” Hunt said. “Let’s market-test this before we build it – our financial resources have forced us into a beautiful box.”

Council endorsed the proposal, asking staff to prepare an expression of interest for final approval.

Bill Reid, with the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce, said he wasn’t concerned about the “open-ended” nature of the proposal, adding he’s received several expressions of interest from developers looking to locate the facility at the fairgrounds.

In a separate motion, the city endorsed a plan to create a new sheet of ice at the Surrey Sports and Leisure Centre at 16555 Fraser Hwy. and an artificial turf field at a yet-to-be determined location in Guildford.

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