Lacombe County pledges $1 million toward RDC multiplex

Lacombe County councillors approved funding toward the project during their regular meeting on Wednesday.

With plans to turn Red Deer College (RDC) into a polytechnic university and the college’s need for a multiplex facility, Lacombe County on Wednesday carried a motion to give $1 million to support the project, according to county commissioner Terry Hager.

The $1 million will come from the Community Aggregate Levy Reserve and will be given in one lump sum in the next few months, said Hager.

The request was brought to council July 9, and Hager said most councillors were in support of the recommendation.

“They felt it would benefit current and future residents of Lacombe County, particularly if it was to become a polytechnic university of a degree-granting status,” Hager said.

The overall estimated cost of the multiplex will be $88 million, as the facility will adequately provide athletes with a centre catered towards sports performance, athletic healing and therapy.

The multiplex will include a centre specifically for sports administration, and in partnership with Hockey Alberta, it will serve athletes involved in playing, refereeing and coaching hockey throughout the entire province.

The request for funding also mentioned that the multiplex is one facility planned to host the 2019 Canada Winter Games, but Hager said this was a minor part in the overall decision making.

“It was more the long-term use of the facility and the strength and support that that facility would bring to Red Deer College’s vision to become a polytechnic university,” Hager said.

But some councillors were in opposition of the amount being requested, Hager said.

Some felt funds should be used for infrastructure needed within Lacombe County, that $1 million was too much money and that the decision could be made closer to the time of the college becoming a polytechnic university.

Factors that were closely looked at prior to carrying the recommendation were whether the polytechnic university and multiplex were in line with Lacombe County’s Regional Recreation Plan and policy for funding capital facilities, and how the facility would benefit the residents of Lacombe County and all of Central Alberta, according to Hager.

Councillors, he said, considered whether the facility would be of “value to our community and will it enhance current and future opportunities for our youth.”

Funds from the Community Aggregate Levy Reserve can be used for community projects such as upgrades to roads, arenas, aquatic centres and bridges, Hager said, noting the terms of reference under the program are broad.

“The intent for that funding is to be used to benefit the community,” Hager said. “(The project) is consistent with the goals and objectives of the Community Aggregate Levy Reserve program.”

Having a polytechnic university and multiplex facility so close to home would benefit the youth of Sylvan Lake, Eckville and other areas surrounding Red Deer, Hager said.

“They will have the same opportunity as everybody else in Central Alberta to be able to access the facilities — I view it as a positive move that would encourage a university in close proximity to our community.”