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Multiplex caution suggested in Sylvan Lake

Funding needed to redevelop Sylvan Lake’s multiplex recreational facility may never materialize and the town should proceed cautiously on the project, suggested several councillors on Monday.

Concerns were raised as council discussed terms of reference for the task force that will oversee the $16.5-million project and for the committee that will be responsible for raising $2 million from local sporting groups and other sponsors.

The town is proposing to borrow $7.9 million for the redevelopment and to tap into another $4.5 million in reserves and government grants. It is also hoped more than $3 million will be pledged by neighbouring municipalities whose residents would use the facility.

To get the project rolling, the town budgeted $500,000 this year for an architect to prepare detailed designs. Making that happen would be one of the task force’s first jobs.

Coun. Laverne Asselstine said he was concerned about going too far on the project when funding remains a question mark. “It almost seems like we’re putting the cart before the horse here,” said Asselstine.

It would not surprise him that the redevelopment bill could climb to $25 million and he questioned how the community could come up with enough money.

Coun. Ken MacVicar expressed doubt the project would go ahead given a financial climate where federal and provincial grants are drying up.

“Again, I hope I’m 100 per cent wrong. I hope this time next year there’s a hole in the ground over there.” Coun. Dale Plante said he remains confident the multiplex will find the support it needs in the community and the town has done its due diligence to ensure money is not wasted.

“I respectfully disagree with the skepticism.”

After much discussion, Mayor Susan Samson suggested the terms of reference be altered to make it clear that if the funding is not available the project will be delayed or scaled back.

Also, it will also be highlighted that the task force is a recommending body not a decision-making group.

Town chief administrative officer Betty Osmond reassured council that checks were in place so that the project did not go too far without the necessary funding and other background work in place.

Council voted to delay approving the terms of reference until its next meeting in two weeks so that staff could make the recommended changes.

In other council news:

l A contract worth up to $300,000 was awarded for architectural services to Calgary’s Sahuri and Partners Achitectural Inc. for a new town fire hall. Last year, council approved spending $750,000 to buy land for the fire hall.

The 1.5-acre site is located at Beacon Hill Drive and 50th Street, near the town’s new RCMP station. Construction is expected to start this year.

l Sylvan residents will pay more for water and sewer service this year. The flat rate for water went up $5 a month to $15.91. Sewer flat rates went up $1 a month to $13.33. Commercial rates also went up $5 and $1 per month respectively.



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