Sylvan Lake town council unanimously agreed to borrow $7 million to pay for the next phase of the $40 million Pogadl Park project.
Mayor Megan Hanson said she saw the sports and recreation area as an important economic driver that will further position the community as a sports tourism destination.
The money will pay for the third phase of the park on the town’s west side and will include the construction of an RV campground, including a south washroom, roads, parking lots, and trails.
Phase 3 will also include the installation of the remaining water, sewer, storm lines, and site landscaping.
When complete, the park will feature six baseball diamonds, an outdoor hockey rink, soccer fields, a multi-purpose field, volleyball courts and a splash park. The H4 Stadium, home of the Sylvan Lake Gulls baseball team is also located there.
Hanson said the cost of borrowing the money and the estimated annual payments of $550,000 are already built into the budget, which anticipates a 5.5 per cent tax increase this year.
“This is not on top of. That makes me feel more comfortable.”
Coun. Jas Payne said delaying the next phase would only make it more expensive to build later.
Sylvan Lake’s population has doubled since 2001 and that growth is going to continue and the park will draw people to the community, he said.
“At this point, I think it’s something we need to do. It’s something we need to move forward.”
Coun. Tim Mearns called the park a “jewel in the community” and said it has been developed with extensive community involvement over the last five years and the finances have been closely monitored by administration.
Mearns also said that pausing now would only make the project more costly later.
The cost of the large recreation site was pegged in 2019 at just under $26 million. The estimated $40 million final bill for the 10-year project takes into inflation that is expected to add an average of six per cent a year to construction costs.
Coun. Kjeryn Dakin acknowledged the park is a major investment, but should go ahead as designed.
“We have to finish the job at hand and there is nothing I would want to take away from it, truly.”
The first payment of about $275,000 will be paid later this year. Yearly payments are estimated at $550,000 based on interest rates of 4.9 per cent. The total cost of borrowing over 25 years will be about $5 million.