City council approved upgrades to an outdoor ice rink in the Swanavon area that would see the addition of a roof, but the neighbourhood association says residents don’t want one.

Council approved funding for the replacement of the outdoor rink in Swanavon with a covered outdoor structure on April 17. 

The total cost of the structure is expected to be approximately $993,655.

“The majority of people would prefer not to have a roof on the arena, as it may cause some issues,” said Jasmine Grosz, Swanavon Community Association chair. 

She came to council on May 15 after council allocated additional funds to the project.

The rink will replace the current rink behind the D-Coy Armouries and next to Swanavon School.

Grosz noted community members were concerned with the price, look, and the possibility of the structure attracting people experiencing homelessness looking to sleep there. 

“It’s not that we’re not sympathetic to people who need to find shelter; we’re just hoping that they go to the places that have people with social workers and (can) hopefully get them into housing programs.”

In a survey by Grosz, 68 community members responded that 74 per cent did not want a roof, 18 per cent wanted a roof, and eight per cent wanted a different design. 

In a second survey by Grosz with 29 respondents, all were opposed to a roofed structure. 

Grosz said the community is excited about some of the proposed upgrades that include a larger ice surface and repurposing boards from the Leisure Centre so hockey can still be played there, as well as upgrading lighting. 

Mayor Jackie Clayton said the upgrades to the facility are meant to provide some reprieve from snow and wind but also work as a shaded area in the summer for recreational activities. 

“If the neighbourhood doesn’t want it, there are many neighbourhoods who do want it,” said the mayor. 

Grosz said when residents looked at the cost comparison of the rink with a roof and without, they preferred not having a roof.

Currently, the Swanavon rink has an asphalt pad and chain link around the outside.

The city’s upgrades to the Swanavon rink will include a new concrete pad, lighting upgrades, use of the Leisure Centre boards and a larger ice surface.

The city says the rink upgrades without a roof would cost around $345,000 to $390,000.

Cost vs. community value

The price concerned some city councillors.

“I don’t know if it’s worth the price,” said Coun. Dylan Bressey.

He was concerned about the upgrades’ price increase, saying he initially thought the cost would be around $250,000, but as the price increased, he had trouble supporting the project. 

Coun. Gladys Blackmore said the site is more expensive than the value it would bring to the community. 

Mayor Clayton said the upgrades with a roof follow council’s priorities of providing a recreation space that can be utilized year-round. 

Coun. Kevin O’Toole said he was disappointed with the price but still supported the upgrades. 

“Nothing doesn’t seem to be on budget anymore, and I don’t know why, but when I go grocery shopping, it’s not what I used to pay anymore, and I think it’s just a way of life,” he said.

After Grosz’s delegation on May 15, council directed administration to bring back a report regarding consultation and other information on the rink upgrades. 

By Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 25, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Town & Country News   Beaverlodge, Alberta

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