The Thompson-Nicola Regional District has approved borrowing for the Sun Peaks Centre and a surface water treatment plant, which will provide additional potable water to the growing resort municipality.
Sun Peaks Mayor Al Raine said phase one of construction is underway on the centre, which includes closing in the ice rink, conference rooms and a fitness centre.
Total cost of the project is just shy of $9 million, with $6 million coming from gas tax grant funding, $2 million borrowed from the regional district and the remainder taken from reserves.
Raine said the focus of the project is to bring money into the community during the off-season.
The goal is bigger concerts — which could draw larger names with guarantee of a performance despite the weather — conferences and events during the months in which skiers stay at home.
Raine said the mountain is hopping from November to April, but infrastructure is needed to attract tourism from April to October.
“Our total focus on the Sun Peaks Centre is not winter, it’s the off-season,” he said.
The rink is expected to be back in use in time for this winter, with the conference and fitness spaces available by next spring.
Meanwhile, the TNRD has also approved lending $1.42 million to Sun Peaks to increase capacity of its potable water. Currently, the municipality draws potable water from an aquifer.
But as the resort community grows, the supply is insufficient.
In 2011, Sun Peaks had 371 people. Today, Raine estimates the population to be about 950.
“We don’t have enough ground water to supply the needs of the community,” he said.
The plan is to supplement the ground water supply with reservoir water.
A reservoir for snowmaking was built about a decade ago in the area between Sundance and Todd Mountain.
Some of that water will now be used for domestic purposes. Ultimately, the plan is to build another reservoir that can collect spring runoff.
Sun Peaks is borrowing for the entire cost of the project.
OUT OF GAS
An application by Sun Peaks Resort Corporation to construct a gas station has been withdrawn.
Raine said the site was not large enough for trucks to access and exit.
There are plans for another location, but visitors will continue to need to gas up before heading up the mountain in the immediate future.
Sun Peaks continues to push for a provincially funded school and resort officials hope for a decision in the next six to eight months.
Raine said a new location remains in the preliminary stage. The present school location is limited in size and infrastructure, being located on the ski hill.
Raine said when the school was first built, opening with a handful of students, it was funded by the community.
It has now grown to 130 students from grades K to 12 and Raine said an elementary school should be properly funded.
Most kids, about 100, attending the school are in elementary school.
“There’s not enough room in the present site to put enough classrooms,” Raine said.
A committee consisting of representatives from the school district, TNRD and resort municipality will meet on the issue.
In the meantime, plans for a TNRD library at Sun Peaks remain on hiatus.
Raine said a library should coincide with the new school.