Communities move to overcome shortages in rec facilities

Two growing communities north of Red Deer are helping to bridge the gap in recreational facilities.

Auctioneer Rick Horn and Carol Simpson

Auctioneer Rick Horn and Carol Simpson

Two growing communities north of Red Deer are helping to bridge the gap in recreational facilities.

Even before Blackfalds was named the fourth fastest growing community in Canada this year, plans were in the works to bring a state of the art recreational fieldhouse to the town with a population of 6,400 residents.

The estimated $15 million fieldhouse will be built on a site north of Womacks Road in the next two years.

Blackfalds’ Field House Society president Carol Simpson said Blackfalds does not have enough space to host banquet and community events and recreational facilities for all community members to enjoy.

“With the exception of our Multiplex, we don’t have facilities to provide rec services for all walks of life regardless,” she said.

“Unfortunately people have to go to other municipalities now.”

The Town of Blackfalds recently committed to borrowing $10 million out of its Municipal Sustainability Fund to help fund the project.

The society has met about $350,000 of its $700,000 goal.

The Goods, Services and Talents Auction fundraiser at the Blackfalds Community Hall was expected to bring in about $9,000 on Saturday evening.

Simpson said many Blackfalds’ residents commute for work to other communities including Joffre.

She said Nova Chemical’s $900-million cash injection to boost production at the Joffre plant, announced last week, will no doubt have a positive impact on the town.

“Anything that benefits this area will benefit people ultimately into Blackfalds,” said Simpson.

The designs will be presented to town council on Tuesday.

Construction could start this summer with a completion date slated for sometime in 2014.

In the last two years, the first two phases of the estimated $4 million Lacombe Athletic Park were completed including building the fieldhouse, and stands, and installing the lights, scoreboard and the signage.

Now all that is left to do is install the artificial turf and running track. Including the groundwork, this comes with a $400,000 price tag.

To date, the Lacombe Athletic Park Association has raised about $200,000. Saturday night’s fundraising gala at the Memorial Centre was expected to bring in $50,000 or more.

“We are Alberta’s newest city,” said Darren Gagnon, Lacombe Athletic Park Association marketing and fundraising chairperson.

“There is a shortage of recreation facilities here in town. Our association has grabbed the bull and brought together groups of government, corporate and private fundraisers to make this project happen.”

The turf is expected to be installed in either May or June depending on the weather.

Gagnon said the facility will draw more people to community and provide the much needed space for sports teams, track meets and outdoor celebrations.

The association has already hosted a university football exhibition game between the University of Alberta and Calgary and inked a five-year deal with the University of Calgary to hold football camps.

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