The city will begin planning a major overhaul of the Sportsplex next year, but there are concerns by some council members that they could end up duplicating services with Strathcona Gardens – which is also currently undergoing a redesign – should communication between the city and the SRD not be increased.
During financial planning deliberations last week, $80,000 was set aside for the design plans for the approximately $3.9-million Sportsplex renovation project. The design work was scheduled to begin in 2022, but Coun. Larry Samson wanted it brought forward to next year.
Samson’s reasoning for pushing the timeline for the project forward was because the work will largely need to rely on grants from other levels of government, so getting the design work done as soon as possible will allow them to pursue those grants when they come available.
But Mayor Andy Adams said there needs to be a lot more collaboration between the city and the Strathcona Gardens Commission (SGC) at the SRD before he could support going ahead with detailed design work on the Sportsplex, “so that we are not duplicating services and getting less bang for our buck.”
Coun. Michele Babchuk backed Samson’s proposal for moving the project up the timeline, echoed the mayor’s concerns about collaboration with the SRD and added another reason they should start in on the Sportsplex upgrades as soon as possible: because “the Sportsplex is going to need some upgrading that is essential to its facility envelope, not just expanding the programming within it.”
The roof, for example, needs to be replaced. That work comes with a $700,000 price tag.
Coun. Charlie Cornfield asked general manager of corporate services and interim manager of parks, Ron Bowles, how long they could put off fixing the roof, to which Bowles simply replied, “the roof is at end of life,” and facilities manager Dave Morris said it’s on the books to be replaced in 2021.
“Well, we’ve gotta replace the roof anyway, so if we can incorporate the roof into that design it will give us another pot of money we can work with,” Cornfield said.
Coun. Ron Kerr, however, said there are already too many plans going on to add a major renovation to a city facility that far up in the timeline, and was the sole vote against the motion.
“We keep throwing these projects into our wish list with the expectation that there’s going to be funding for them,” Kerr said. “At the same time, we’re increasing expectation within the community that we’re going to be able to do them all, and I don’t think we can. At some point we need to prioritize and I think that takes more of a wholesome discussion.”
In the end, the $80,000 for detailed design work on the Sportsplex was brought up into next year’s budget on the condition that those discussions and collaborations with the SGC take place before the design work begins.