Civic centre moves forward

Detailed architectural drawings will be created for the first phase of a $126.1-million civic centre expansion downtown.

Detailed architectural drawings will be created for the first phase of a $126.1-million civic centre expansion downtown.

Red Deer city council agreed unanimously on Tuesday to spend $2.87 million on detailed designs for a building that would be constructed on the site of the current city RCMP detachment, across the street from the existing City Hall.

Some of that money would also be used to look at updating the mechanical systems of the current headquarters.

That four-storey building, just over 113,000 square feet in size, would have a price tag of about $58.5 million.

City officials hope construction on the first phase would begin in late 2010.

Once it’s built, it could be further expanded in the next 40 years, with an additional five stories.

The second phase involves additional and renovated space totalling just over 175,000 square feet.

It includes extra space and upgrades to the Red Deer Public Library and existing City Hall and City Hall Park redevelopment.

A pedway between the existing City Hall, library and new office building would also be built. Second phase was set to begin in late 2012 or early 2013.

City manager Craig Curtis said cutbacks to the province’s Municipal Sustainability Initiative funding may end up further delaying the second phase of the project.

“At this stage, we’re certainly confident we can include phase one in our capital plan in spite of provincial cutbacks,” Curtis said.

Civic leaders have been considering expansion for several years because they say the current 39-year-old City Hall is cramped and as a result, some staff is now working in other buildings downtown.

Councillor Tara Veer said she supports the project overall because when it’s done, the community will be better served.

But she was also concerned with the project because it has expanded so much in scope, that there is a huge financial cost.

She figures phase one is manageable within the city’s capital plan, but Phase 2 is much tougher.

Veer said she would like to see phase two delayed or be broken up into more phases.

It’s important to be mindful of the current recession, she added.

“And we’re just not realizing the types of grants, especially from the province, in order to move with a project of this magnitude,” Veer said.

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