Acquatic centre planning to begin

It’s back to the drawing board.

It’s back to the drawing board.

The charting of a revised vision of a multi-use aquatic centre in Red Deer is about to get underway.

On Monday, council gave the go-ahead to form a new Red Deer Multi-Use Aquatic Centre ad hoc committee that will decide the size, amenities, cost and location of a proposed facility.

The nine-person committee will use the work of the Central Alberta Aquatics Centre group and make final recommendations to council by June 30.

The most recent price tag is $90 million for a facility with a 50-metre pool at the proposed Recreation Park site.

Mayor Tara Veer said there have been a few shifts in the community since the approval of the previous aquatic centre plan as a planning tool, including the likely imminent closure of Michener Centre.

Veer said there are a lot of unknowns, including the city’s lease on the Michener site and how the closure will impact the city’s pool infrastructure.

Council also approved a new public consultation undertaking to determine a community-driven amenity list for its 2015 Capital Budget and 10-Year Capital Plan.

Council will ultimately determine where the centre makes the cut in the planned community amenity list.

Residents have also raised concerns about the proposed closure of the outdoor pool.

Veer also noted there are members of the aquatic centre group who want the full $90-million vision while others say they would be satisfied with only the 50-metre pool.

Veer said council has never had a clear sense of the support for the pool and hopes to resolve this during the broad community amenity consultation.

Coun. Tanya Handley said during Monday’s debate that she has serious reservations on the new ad hoc committee because she felt it was duplicating work that has already been done. She charged the resolution is setting up the committee to fail because of its short time frame to come up with a new plan, plus the lack of parameters.

“I would like to know what new information that we’re looking for,” she said. “My fear is we’re going to send this committee away and they could potentially come back with the same price tag and the same location proposed.”

Handley said she would have liked to have tasked the new committee to come up with several options for a facility as opposed to one size, one location and one price for the centre.

“I think it is going to start the process all over again and we’re not going to get anywhere,” said Handley. “Without setting some parameters … we’re going to have the same result all over again. I don’t want to see this happen to the people who have put work into this.”

Other councillors raised questions about sponsorship opportunities and the city’s contribution to the project. Administration reasoned it is better to paint the overall amenity picture before getting into the nitty gritty of resources and revenue for one project.

Last November, council put off making a decision on putting the facility in the capital budget and plan until they had gauged public opinion and had more information.

At that time, Councillors Lynne Mulder and Paul Harris asked to put the centre into the city’s 10-year plan.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

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