City council is moving forward with a recreational facility in the Avondale neighbourhood. 

On May 6, council directed administration to continue negotiations with Peace Wapiti Public and Grande Prairie Public school divisionsto potentially build a recreation facility north of the pickleball courts next to the former Leisure Centre where there is a rugby field.

“This will come back to council for a final check in once we see the true estimate on engineering as well as with conversations in regards to usage from our school districts,” said Mayor Jackie Clayton. 

She said the motion only mentions it’s the preferred site rather than a final decision. 

The other location under consideration was south of the pickleball courts, which currently has a baseball diamond. 

Still, some councillors do not agree that the north site is the correct spot for the facility. 

“I honestly don’t support the current direction,” said Coun. Dylan Bressey.

“I think planning for just this one facility will be short-sighted. 

“We don’t need another pool on the north side of the city yet, but we will eventually. 

“I think this is perfect land for that; I think we should be building a type of a building that may be expandable to accommodate future recreation needs in the city, and we’re not going to get that with either option (presented).”

Coun. Wendy Bosch said she wants to get something built immediately. 

“The longer that you wait and the years that you wait, people aren’t playing soccer, they’re not playing rugby, they’re not going for walks, they’re not using a facility that can be used,” she said.

“I will say, however, if the costs come in, and they’re unreasonable, and if there are issues with negotiations, I’m willing to change the location because there really isn’t a huge variance for me as far as where it goes.” 

Last year, the Swan City Football Club told council that the demolition of the Leisure Centre was impacting sports across the region and that an indoor space is needed. The club said it had to turn away about 150 athletes because of insufficient indoor playing space. 

Public consultation on the proposed site took place in November: Both locations received support, with the north site receiving slightly more at about 57 per cent.

“It is anticipated that a replacement sports field could be accommodated within the Avondale site, with a potential capital budget request to be submitted for consideration in the 2025 budget.” says a city report. 

The report also notes that climate change is altering outdoor recreation spaces. As increasing temperatures lead to heat, storms, wildfires, and reduced air quality, a new facility will ensure residents have access to recreational activities in the summer months. 

Additionally, council directed administration to prepare reports on 135,000 sq. ft. dome structure and fabric structure for council to review at a future meeting. 

Council wants to compare the cost of each as well as their lifespan. 

According to a city report, a dome structure can be constructed in about six months and cost about $3 million while a fabric structure could be completed between six to eight months and cost about $8.7 million. 

The lifespan of a dome structure is about 20 years, while a fabric structure exceeds 30, says the city report. 

City council asked administration to return with the costs of possible services like parking and utilities to the structures. 

Last year, in budget deliberations council budgeted $10 million for a recreational facility in the Avondale area to be funded through debenture.

Provincial support?

The province announced $30 million in new funding to support sports and recreation facilities on May 3. 

The Active Communities Initiative will be open to community groups and non-profit organizations “that wish to build or enhance spaces that support sport and recreation in their communities.”

The program is a funding matching program with funding from $100,000 to $1.5 million. 

By Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 16, 2024 at 11:26LJI-Alta-GP-rec-centre

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

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