The city has approved up to $10 million in principle for a new indoor recreation facility.
The multi-use facility building would be similar to the dome design proposed by Swan City Football Club earlier in the year.
“This motion shows our intent to be in the business to look to get a new facility in our community,” said Mayor Jackie Clayton.
“The $10 million in principle is not to say that we’re building it no matter what, it’s saying that we’re interested in building this facility.”
The facility would be used for soccer, lacrosse, football and baseball, said the mayor.
She noted the current motion by council will create an opportunity to work with other municipal partners on the project.
The city says it would fund the project through a debenture but council will have an opportunity to change that if the discussion comes back to council.
The need for a new facility comes after the decision to demolish the Leisure Centre, which has left some recreational user groups without facilities.
“A huge step in the right direction,” is how David Rojas, executive director of Swan City Football Club described council’s decision.
In January, the football club said it needed to turn away approximately 150 young soccer players because of a lack of indoor field space. Other recreational user groups, including cricket and lacrosse, expressed difficulties finding a suitable indoor facility after the Leisure Centre closure.
“Our biggest concern is timeline,” said Rojas.
“I feel like right now we’re playing a little bit of catch up, we already lost a lot of numbers (of players) and we’re afraid we’re going to continue to lose more.
“The sooner the better.”
Location of new rec facility
City administration gave council three locations to consider for the new recreational facility: Avondale, Cobblestone and Smith neighbourhoods.
Clayton said there are many considerations for the site location, including proximity to other recreational assets and residential areas as well as accessibility for traffic.
Currently a dome model is being explored as a design that will create the facility for a quicker response to the current need from recreational groups.
“We’ve looked at a dome coming to fruition quicker than a bricks and mortar or a steel structure,” said Clayton.
She said the dome could be put up quicker in areas other than the Avondale which will need to wait for demolition of the old Composite and leisure centre, expected to begin later this month.
Clayton believes locating the dome in Smith or Cobblestone would result with a quicker construction. That way, she said, “You really could see kids playing early next year.”
The mayor expects a decision on the location of the proposed recreational facility to come to council at its next meeting on April 17.
But the football club’s Rojas is not so optimistic that the facility will be ready so soon, but says he is hopeful for a quick turnaround.
Discussions with the Grande Prairie Regional Recreation Committee are ongoing, said Clayton.
She said high level conversations were directed more about finding opportunities for indoor soccer and a steel structure design.
Those conversations also included an expansion of the County Sportsplex.
In November 2020, the city committed up to $100,000 in matching funds of the Swan City Football Club for the project.
Grande Prairie Public School Division Chair Joan Nellis and Superintendent Sandy McDonald spoke to council on Monday in support of the facility.
By Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Apr 06, 2023