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Public input invited on YMCA

The public will have a final opportunity to discuss a controversial proposed $17.5-million partnership with the YMCA.

The city has decided to invite public input during a special executive committee meeting Monday (Dec. 3) at 3 p.m. atthe Clearbrook Library meeting room.

The meeting could not be held at the Matsqui Centennial Auditorium due to the Abbotsford Children's Theatre play being set up on stage.

Council will vote on approving or rejecting the project the same night.

Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman said there is misinformation about the project that needs to be clarified.

“There’s a misconception that this will mean a tax increase, which it will not.

“I think there is a misconception that we don’t have the money. We already have close to $12 million that could go towards this project now,” he said.

The cash is currently in the general capital reserve fund, set aside for future projects.

The remaining  funds would be worked into the city’s proposed financial plan over a two- to three-year period.

However, critics have said there are other spending priorities for the city, with some suggesting the money shouldn’t be spent at this time.

“That’s the argument. That’s good healthy debate,” said Banman

The proposal before the city is for a $17.5-million contribution, half the cost to construct the building on the site of the old MSA General Hospital on McCallum Road.

The YMCA will raise the other half of construction costs and pay all operating costs for 40 years.

The proposed building, owned by the YMCA, includes a pool, gymnasiums and other services.

Banman noted that if council votes yes on Monday, it doesn’t mean the deal is done, rather, it is a vote to put it into the budget.

“But if we say no now, the deal is totally dead.”

The YMCA still has to raise its portion of the capital costs and other details still have to be worked out.

“I would encourage people to show up and express their opinion,” said Banman.

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