Gardens review postponed due to lack of interest

Strathcona Regional District was set to launch an independent assessment of Strathcona Gardens

A review into the feasibility of expanding the arena at Strathcona Gardens has been temporarily cancelled.

The Strathcona Regional District was set to launch an independent assessment of Strathcona Gardens before calling off the project last week.

Russ Hotsenpiller, chief administrative officer of the regional district, said the response to a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the review was not good enough.

“One of the requirements of the RFP states that the proponents must attend a site visit to become familiar with the full scope of the project,” Hotsenpiller wrote in a staff report. “Unfortunately, the site visit was attended by only one proponent. This is an important project for Strathcona Gardens and this is an unacceptable result for the delivery of a competitive process.”

The regional district has approved $75,000 for a study to identify potential improvements at the Gardens including a possible Rod Brind’Amour Arena expansion and the addition of a wellness centre.

The study, dubbed a facility needs assessment, was prompted by an arena evaluation done in 2004.

The 2004 evaluation looked at ways to increase the amount of seating in Rod Brind’Amour – two of which involve renovating the existing arena and one which recommends building a new arena at Strathcona Gardens. That study also included conceptual drawings for a wellness centre to be built beside the swimming pool.

Regional District staff, however, since determined that a more in-depth study is needed before taking any action on the recommendations.That led staff to issue last month the RFP for the facility needs assessment.

The assessment was to focus on two key components – whether current services meet the needs and expectations of the community and whether the existing facility allows for the delivery of appropriate services for the next five, 10 to 20 years and if not, how the facility should be improved.

According to the RFP, which has been cancelled, “the overall intent of this assessment is to determine the most efficient and affordable plan for the regional district to address identified facility and program needs. It is expected that the range of options may include replacement, expansion, repair and/or renovations.”

Hotsenpiller said the regional district does not intend to abandon the assessment and will “need to adopt a much more aggressive approach to solicit a larger interest group.”

He said staff is surveying recreation departments that have conducted recent assessments to gauge potential proponents.

“This unfortunate interruption will certainly affect the original proposed timelines as set out in the RFP, postponing the final results into the New Year,” Hotsenpiller said. “However, in the interest of providing the (Strathcona Gardens) commission with a valuable document that reflects their goals and objectives, taking the extra time now to refine our strategy is the recommended approach.”