Curling rink added to Sylvan Lake’s proposed leisure centre

A curling rink will be added to Sylvan Lake’s proposed leisure centre, reversing an earlier decision.

A curling rink will be added to Sylvan Lake’s proposed leisure centre, reversing an earlier decision.

Including a four-sheet curling rink as part of the complex had been considered previously, but was later dropped because local curlers favoured a six-sheet facility. The local club had already begun fundraising for its own stand-alone facility.

However, the collapse of the Sylvan Lake Arena and the town’s plans to fast track the leisure centre led to some rethinking.

Mayor Sean McIntyre said it was clear the curling club and town had similar goals, such as creating a venue that had public banquet space, a lounge and office space. The town had also agreed to invest $1.5 million in the curling club’s facility so both were publicly supported facilities.

“So having the curling club included in the larger facility is an efficiency for taxpayers. So that’s exciting.”

Both leisure centre and curling rink will rely on fundraising and sponsorship efforts. Joining the two campaigns is expected to make it easier to raise cash.

McIntyre said some people were split over which facility to support.

“Now those people don’t have to have that conflict,” he said.

“For me, one of my greater goals as mayor was uniting our community. That’s where I saw an opportunity here.”

Council set a maximum budget of $16.5 million for the leisure facility in December 2012.

The town had proposed borrowing $7.9 million for the facility and to tap into another $4.5 million from its reserves and through government grants. It was also hoped that $3.1 million would come from neighbouring summer villages and counties and $2.5 million could be raised through donations, sponsors and user groups.

McIntyre said those numbers will have to be revisited now that the scope of the project has changed.

Besides a new arena and curling rink, the project will include a four-lane indoor running track, child activity area, seniors and civic events centres, and other meeting, administration and concession areas.

Sylvan Lake Curling Club vice-president Bruce Cartwright sees a lot of advantages to joining forces with the town on a single facility.

Building a six-sheet rink on the club’s existing footprint was always going to be a tight fit. While losing the sixth sheet will mean passing on hosting some events, five sheets is enough to meet the needs of local curlers.

Fundraising, which had been going slowly, will also be simplified.

“With the arena collapse we saw an opportunity to renegotiate with the town and open discussions and the town was very amenable to that,” he said. “The other users of the leisure centre also think it’s a great idea.

“We’ve got a really good group working together here. I think it’s a really positive move for us.”

McIntyre said the town is “full steam ahead” on the project and expects to have an architect chosen by early April and a conceptual design ready for public input in May. A completion date for the new facility has not yet been determined.