Concept images of an aquatic centre, as seen on the walls of the Red Deer Recreation Centre. (Advocate file photo).

Red Deer’s aquatic centre could be built sooner, if money would be saved

But those are big ‘ifs,’ says Trevor Poth

Red Deer’s proposed aquatic centre could be fast-tracked if construction prices actually are more competitive in this slower economy, says a city official.

But parks superintendent Trevor Poth maintains it’s up to council to decide whether to begin the project before its 2025 ground-turning date.

And he hasn’t seen any evidence yet that construction costs are “considerably” lower now, as suggested by the Town of Blackfalds’ decision to speed up arena and library construction projects to take advantage of a “competitive” construction market.

Poth adds the city will be interested to see whether savings are realized by Blackfalds or other regional municipalities on capital projects.

The town’s council voted unanimously this week to start building a $15-million multi-plex arena and a $5-million library in 2020 after an administrative report recommended starting these projects sooner to take advantage of reported cost savings in the current economy.

Blackfalds moves up construction dates

The two projects had previously been slated to be built between 2021 and 2024.

The decision by Blackfalds town council prompted a proponent of Red Deer’s aquatic centre to wonder why the city isn’t following suit and taking advantage of the more competitive construction climate.

Garfield Marks wrote to the Advocate suggesting the city “bite the bullet” and finally start building a pool complex suitable for national and provincial competitions.

He notes that in the nearly two decades since the city finished the Collicutt Centre, surrounding communities have been investing in their own recreation facilities and therefore expanding their own populations.

By expediting the aquatic centre, Marks suggests, Red Deer could revive its sports leadership role in central Alberta.

Poth says the design phase of the new pool project is already underway.

A consultant will explore what kind of centre should be built, where it should be located, and how much it will cost. These results will be presented to council by mid 2020.

Aquatic centre costs are variable, depending on the kind of amenities that are included and the site that is selected — whether it needs to be purchased or the land serviced, adds Poth.

City council can always change the timing of any capital project if there’s a cost saving to be had, he notes. But based on recent construction of the Northside Community Centre, Poth hasn’t noticed any significant savings in recent months.

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