City wants new lease on Michener facilities

The City of Red Deer is negotiating a new three-year lease with Alberta Infrastructure to carry on operating and managing the pool and gymnasium at Michener Aquatic Centre.

The City of Red Deer is negotiating a new three-year lease with Alberta Infrastructure to carry on operating and managing the pool and gymnasium at Michener Aquatic Centre.

Earlier this month, the province announced it was closing Michener Centre by next January and moving the remaining 125 residents with developmental disabilities to group homes or seniors facilities.

Alberta Infrastructure has said what happens to Michener’s 300 acres and its buildings won’t be decided anytime soon.

The city’s current three-year lease at Michener Aquatic Centre expires on April 1.

“At this point in time, we anticipate continued delivery of the programs and services in the aquatic and dry space area of that facility that we have been providing for several years,” said Shelley Gagnon, the city’s manager of Recreation, Parks and Culture.

“We have nothing that would make us anticipate that there’s going to be any changes.”

She said the city started leasing the pool when the Recreation Centre pool was closed for renovations and Michener pool later came in handy when the G.H. Dawe Community Centre pool was renovated.

The city runs some swim programs at Michener, but most of the time the pool is used by swim clubs, which also use the gym. The city doesn’t use the gym for programming.

Gagnon said all city pools are busy, including Michener.

“I would venture to say user groups feel (the Michener pool) is an integral part of recreation in Red Deer for sure.”

Elsewhere on Michener property, Michener Hill Curling Club expects to continue to operate despite upcoming changes for Michener residents.

The facility was originally constructed in 1964 by trainees and vocational instructors of Alberta School Hospital. Curling leagues later took over and leased the four-sheet rink.

Bert Lowe, curling manager and ice maker, said the Michener Hill Curling Association still has about 20 years on its lease.

“As far as I know, our lease is still good with (Alberta Infrastructure),” Lowe said.

The rink is busy with league play with about 300 association members, high school classes, and Special Olympics users.

Over the years, Michener Centre grew to about 55 buildings and housed more than 2,200 residents.

Services to Michener residents currently include food, personal care, laundry, recreation, nursing supports for those with extensive medical needs, dental and pharmacy services, and physical therapy. A small store and a chapel are also on site.

Eighteen of the buildings are not in use, but others are leased by the Protection of Children Abusing Drugs (PChAD) program operated by McMan Youth Family and Community Services and Lotsa Tots Childcare. Bee Cleaning Building Maintenance leases a portion of a building to store cleaning equipment and supplies.

Red Deer Safety City Society leases land for Safety City. RCMP uses a building for tactical training.

Alberta Health Services administration is located in the South Administration Building of Michener Centre. In 2008, David Thompson Health Region moved in after the building was renovated following a lightning strike.

DTHR also acquired 13 acres on the north and sides of the building for future expansion.

In 2010, Extendicare Michener Hill opened a publicly-funded, privately-owned and operated seniors facility on Michener property with 220 long-term care beds and 60 assisted living beds.

Sierras Michener Hill, an adult condominium project, was built beside Extendicare, in addition to an adult duplex development.