Invermere mega development projct gauges rec centre support

Pine Ridge development seeks community feedback

The developers of a master planned community are seeking public input on a proposed multipurpose recreation centre.

Pine Ridge Mountain & Lakeview community, a project by Statesman, is looking to build a full-service family recreation centre that will include an ice rink, 25 metre pool, fitness spa and daycare, amongst other possibilities. Statesman would like to build a four-story hotel above the centre. Their vision is to attract sports tourism to the Valley.

The hotel “is where the sports tourism part kicks in,” explained Jamie McArthur, sales manager for Pine Ridge. “If we have a new, full-sized ice rink and swimming pool to host tournaments, then we can draw people all around western Canada and beyond.”

If built, the recreation centre would be part of a larger Columbia Valley Park, a 22 acre rehabilitated landfill which already has a green space, a viewpoint overlooking Lake Windermere, a soccer field and a playground. Last week, landscapers were putting the finishing touches around the three recently-installed pickleball and two beach volleyball courts. The playground, complete with a zip rail, has proven popular with local families and the practice golf green with three holes will be sure to attract some golf fans to the area.

Mr. McArthur estimated the recreation centre could cost $40 million. They are launching a petition to gauge community interest for the project, which will be available soon on the Pine Ridge website.

Statesman is looking for a low-interest government loan to build the centre through a private/public partnership. The company would like to see an interested community entity take over the rec centre operations once it is built. In earlier brochures touting the centre, Statesman had listed the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) as a possibility. However, the RDEK has had no knowledge of this and requested all references inferring the facility will or may be owned by the RDEK be immediately removed.

Statesman presented the proposed recreational facility to Invermere’s Council previously and they have plans to come back to Council again, Mayor Gerry Taft confirmed.

“The majority of Council was quite sceptical of the proposal,” said Mr. Taft. “My own opinion is the concept of a $40 million recreation facility that doesn’t cost the taxpayer any money to build and to operate is potentially in the reality of ‘too good to be true’.”

The zoning is in place for the entire Pine Ridge project, approved years ago by Invermere Council. Mr. Taft said if the developers wanted to build the recreation centre today, they could. The developers do not need to petition the community or apply to Council again for any new builds on their land.

“It’s fair to say, through various people on Invermere council, council has been supportive of the development from the beginning,” said Mr. Taft.

While Council has been supportive, Mr. Taft said there has not been as much activity on this and other development projects over the years as community members either expected or would like to see.

“Over time there’s been a lot of promises of zipline, golf course, hotel – there hasn’t been a lot materialized,” recalled Mr. Taft. “We’ve seen proposals in Invermere […] that at the end of the day they turned into failed real estate investment schemes. It feels sometimes that by the District of Invermere approving zoning, it lends some weight and seriousness to the project.”

He said it then in turn fuels real estate development, but the promised amenities do not always end up being built, especially when the funding proposed is through government grants that would most likely not be available for a private facility.

The mega development project is located above 14th Ave. in Invermere, past Mt. Nelson park. The vision for Pine Ridge includes 300 single family and 400 multifamily homes. Statesman is currently starting to sell and build another 12-townhouse development and several new home builds are either underway or planned for construction in the near future. The first phase of roughly 110 single family home lots is about half sold, reported Grant Costello, sales & marketing for Pine Ridge.

Mr. Costello said they have seen interest in the project from local buyers as well as Albertans wanting to retire here, or young families looking for recreational property. Mr. Costello said there are some key features that make this development appealing, including geothermal heating and cooling for homes, ‘zero-scaping’ for low-water and lawn maintenance, creation of a walkable community nestled in the woods and easy access to downtown.

Charles and Ann Donald are one such buyer. They are Calgarians who wanted to own a place where the four seasons were distinct and usable and within reasonable driving distance for their children and friends.

“After four years of looking we decided that Pine Ridge Developments offered us the lot best orientated for maximum sunlight exposure, the ability to cost manage and have constructed a house design that we had had drawn specific to our interests and importantly what we consider to be competitively priced,” shared Mr. Donald. “We made a good decision to make this our second home.”

Last year, Statesman decided to “stimulate activity” by building a number of new homes too, jump starting a project that has languished for several years now.

“It’s starting to pick up again,” said Mr. Costello in an interview with the Pioneer last week.

If built, the recreation centre would be part of a larger Columbia Valley Park, a 22 acre rehabilitated landfill which already has a green space, a viewpoint overlooking Lake Windermere, a soccer field and a playground. Last week, landscapers were putting the finishing touches around the three recently-installed pickleball and two beach volleyball courts. The playground, complete with a zip rail, has proven popular with local families and the practice golf green with three holes will be sure to attract some golf fans to the area.

For more information on Pine Ridge Mountain & Lakeview Community, visit www.discoverpineridge.com.

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