Taxpayers to be asked for more input on community complex

It’s such a large and costly project that town councillors decided to defer their decision on what to include in a new multiplex

It’s such a large and costly project that town councillors decided to defer their decision on what to include in a new multiplex so they can get more feedback from taxpayers.

The town began looking at replacing the aging arena and curling rinks with a new multiple use building that would be attached to the current multiplex and completed a Community Complex Feasibility Study in April.

Since that time councillors have discussed various options of what should be included in the building.

At Monday’s meeting, they were presented with a recommendation from staff that council approve a conceptual design which would include the arena replacement, a four lane running track, expanded front entry with concession, meeting room space, community organizations’ administration space, child activity area, leasehold space, seniors’ centre and meeting and conference centre.

A second part of the recommendation was that council approve, in concept, the redevelopment of a four sheet curling rink at the existing location with renovation to the existing lounge and public viewing area.

A projected operating budget was prepared by staff for three different components — a seniors centre, a meeting and conference centre and a four sheet curling rink. Information was also prepared on a standalone building for a four sheet curling rink.

Ron Lebsack, director of Leisure and Protective Services said “if council’s wish is to put all three components (into the building) it would be very tight, would come right out to the road allowance on every angle”. That would reduce existing parking.

Since the curling club prefers a stand-alone facility, councillors, at the suggestion of Mayor Susan Samson, agreed to remove that from their discussion and “look at a curling rink in isolation”.

During the meeting, John Walsh, speaking on behalf of the curling club, said their wish is for a six sheet rink since four sheets would restrict entries into bonspiels. He talked about increased use of the curling rink in the recent past.

However, Councillor Ken MacVicar said, “I think six sheets of ice in a community of this size is a non-start from my perspective … For the number of bonspiels you can attract it’s not viable.”

He indicated he could certainly support a four sheet facility.

Lebsack had previously said when he looked at ice usage and membership, he found it hard to justify more than four sheets.

Councillor Dale Plante questioned parking since the initial plan was to use the site of the current curling rink to accommodate parking needed for the new facility.

Lebsack indicated they “would still be able to meet the parking allotment required”. He explained the building would never be at 100 per cent usage, that less parking was needed if the seniors centre was in the building and that they could use space in the parking lot on the north side of the tracks, across from the current town hall, to meet the requirement.

The seniors association is wholeheartedly in favour of moving from their current facility into a bigger 6,000 square foot area (about the size of a high school gymnasium), indicated Lebsack. They’d also like to stay in the main downtown core and not be in another facility on the fringe of town.

“That’s a natural fit for fitness,” said Councillor Laverne Asselstine. He suggested with the number of seniors expected to increase significantly the additional space would be well used.

The town or others would also have the ability to rent the seniors centre for functions when it wasn’t used by the association much the same as the current building is available for rent.

Councillor Sean McIntyre spoke in favour of including children’s playspace in the new facility. He’s previously objected since there was a business in town offering that kind of service but he said it’s no longer operating.

“It’s a great service to provide to the community, I think we should consider it,” he said.

He requested the discussion be taken “one more time to the public. This is a really big project for the town.”

Samson agreed. “I think we should not make a final decision tonight. We should be clear in the direction we want to take this and get out to the public and get feedback.”

“I think we still need more feedback,” said MacVicar. He was also concerned that they get support from user groups who are going to have to contribute significant money towards construction of the facility.

“We have to be very clear unless we get partnerships, the next council will have to make some pretty hard decisions.”

McIntyre recommended an open house be set up. “I worry that just setting up designs in the (town hall) foyer is more passive. A lot of people who want to have their voices heard won’t get the opportunity. It’s worth the additional time to do it right, let everybody get their voices heard.”

That’s what was agreed and administration was tasked with setting up something in the near future.