"So, I heard there is some Rugby Centre being developed in Kelowna. Is this true?"
In a couple of words - sort of. Pull up a chair and let me tell you the story....
Five or six years ago, a group of hearty and hopeful local rugby enthusiasts presented the City of Kelowna with an opportunity. We offered to build a Rugby Centre of Excellence on City-owned fields. In return for raising the funds to build such a Rugby Centre, the Central Okanagan Rugby Enthusiasts society asked the City to grant them the right to operate the use of the building for a really long time.
Time moved on. Several hopeful beginnings never got traction and no agreement between CORE and the City emerged. The City staff has their concerns. Who is CORE anyway? Can they operate a City-owned sport facility? CORE has its concerns. Can we raise the $2.5 million we think we need to build the facility we want? Will the City's expectations drive costs through the literal roof?
Despite these concerns, both the City staff and CORE see an exciting collaborative opportunity. To the disappointment of some rugby enthusiasts, the City requires that the building cater to multiple sports. Others recognize the great beneifts of a shared facility. The multi-sport building would promote sport sampling for all boys and girls under the age of 13. It would also house adult rugby, soccer, cricket, and other field sports.
Present plans are for a two-storey building. The main floor would have four large club rooms, each the home of a sport club and convertible to change rooms. It also would have two referee change rooms, a medical room, and four outside-facing bathrooms. The second floor would feature a large hall, a catering kitchen, a meeting room, an office, and a bunch of storage space. The building would be wrapped in a beautiful field-facing deck. Some would like to see bleachers flow down from the deck to the pitch. Outdoor storage would be build under those stands.
In 2015, it looked like the opportunity to pursue this building was approaching on the new Glenmore Rec Fields, located on the corner of Valley and Longhill. CORE assembled a Glenmore Centre Steering Committee with an impressive collection of construction, fund-raising, and business operations experts. Mark Aquilon donated a rendering to generate discussion about the functions of the building. Don Jenner donated $10,000 to support future developments for the building. A preliminary business review showed promise for the ongoing sustainability of the building.
In 2016, the City began its development of the Glenmore property. Phase I was completed in 2017 - that property has a roughed-in access road, fencing, and a nice flat space for two beautiful pitches. City staff were authorized to formally begin negotiations with CORE. All was coming together nicely.
However, 'nothing comes easy' and 'all good things come to those who wait'. And wait some more we must. On December 14, City Council approved their 2018 budget that coded the completion of the Glenmore Sports Fields as 'P2', which means they will not be funding the completion of that park for at least another year. If Phase 2 completion of the Glenmore Rec Park is funded for the 2019 fiscal year, the fields would be available for use sometime in 2020.
So we wait. And let's be clear, once the City completes that park, we are still a long walk away from our envisioned Glenmore Centre. We need to complete a detailed architectural plan, a comprehensive business plan, and a compelling fund-raising plan. We need to establish a formal agreement with the City. Oh, and there's that small issue of raising $2.5 million to make this happen.
CORE remains committed to the establishment of a Central Okanagan home for rugby. Most of us still have hopeful and hearty spirits. We remain excited about a day when all rugby operations have a place from which to develop our sport. To 'sort of' quote Bertrand Russell, whom we believe must have been a rugby enthusiast, "The world is full of magical things patiently waiting." Yes it is, Bertrand, yes it is.