Regional Recreation Centre not necessarily a ‘given’

Vol. 15, Issue 4, The Leduc-Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer

On January 18th, 2011 residents of Wetaskiwin were invited by the City of Wetaskiwin and County of Wetaskiwin to attend a presentation by BarrRyder Architects and Interior Design Consultants. This was the final community meeting that would provide design updates for the proposed Multi Purpose Recreational Facility for the City of Wetaskiwin and receive final feedback from the public and ratepayers.

The full house attendance at the Memorial Centre clearly indicated that many questions and opinions continue to swirl around in the community. Do we need it? What will it look like? Who will it serve? What benefits will it bring to Wetaskiwin and region and perhaps most importantly, what will it cost?

The question of cost has still not been answered although Steven Bushnell, Partner/architect with BarrRyder Architects and Interior Designers offered concept designs ranging from $15 million for an aquatic centre ‘shell’ to $27.6 million for a fully equipped aquatic centre and field house. He pointed out that the purpose of the meeting was, “the process of public participation is obviously underway and the people can decide what they want in the community.”

Camille Giacobbo, a young mom and resident of Wetaskiwin viewed the displays of the proposed Recreation Centre options and expressed the views of many young couples who were present.  “Yes we really need it in the community.  I suppose that most of the young families that I speak with directly are taking a lot of their recreational to other towns because they have the big Centres there. Would be nice to have that option here in Wetaskiwin and keep our community in our community.” This seemed to be the strong opinion of many young parents in attendance who also stated they also tend to shop in the other Centres and there is a (travel) cost when they have to leave Wetaskiwin.

Planning Step by Step

In 2008 the City of Wetaskiwin contracted Cannon Design to evaluate the existing Aboussafy Aquatic Centre. The engineering reports showed the building required extensive (and expensive) repairs to the roof and ventilation system. It was estimated the pool would have to be shut down for 1-2 years to complete the repairs. The report prompted Councils of the City and County of Wetaskiwin to announce the two municipalities had committed to partnering in the establishment of a Multi-Purpose Recreation Facility.

A survey was conducted in the fall of 2009 to identify the wants and needs and expectations for recreation facilities. Respondents preferred an aquatic centre supplemented with additional recreation opportunities for residents of all ages and athletic skills and abilities.

Barr Ryder an Architect and Interior Design Firm was hired to create and provide a Pre Design Report.

In early March of 2010 a public meeting was held and concepts were presented showing options for a new Multi-Purpose Recreation Facility. Survey results revealed the number one choice of the respondents was a new aquatic centre followed by a field-house.

The decision for the City of Wetaskiwin to commit $3.5 million dollars to the project was made  easier with the availability of the Provincial Major Facilities Grant and an additional $1 million dollar Federal Recreational Infrastructure Canada Grant. The County of Wetaskiwin has committed $2 million dollars designated from the Provincial Municipal Sustainability Initiative Grant Funding.

The audience was provided ample opportunity to express their opinions and ask questions but it was pointed out that the purpose of the meeting was to present what building options are available. The next step is to determine the actual cost and sources of funding and finally the City will have to decide, can we afford it?

In the meantime Recreation Managers, Kevin and Tasha have been talking with other communities that have built multi-use facilities and have learned that a new facility could have a positive economic impact on Wetaskiwin if it includes unique features to attract people from other communities. If you have any questions or wish to provide comments regarding the Regional Multi-Purpose Recreation Facility, please contact City Hall at 780-361-4400. 

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