Lacombe County approved $1.35 million in funding help for City of Lacombe recreation projects on Thursday.
But there is a string attached.
County council wants the city to provide a five-year business plan outlining future recreation needs and costs, which are expected to be significant in the next few years. The information will help the county undertake its own financial planning, said councillors during debate on Thursday.
Coun. Brenda Knight said she has no problem providing funding help for city recreation facilities, which are also used by county residents, and suggested a three-year business plan would be helpful.
“I think that’s just due diligence,” she said. Her motion was later amended to request a five-year business plan.
Getting a clear picture of future projects and costs could be even more important soon because the province has provided key funding in the past, but could be about to turn off the cash taps in its next budget.
“We’re all waiting with baited breath right now to see what kinds of monies are coming forward in that budget,” said Knight.
The county’s financial contribution will go towards a number of projects in Lacombe, including major upgrades to the Barnett Arena and the Aquaplex, which form a multiplex that is due for a $10.8-million overhaul. Projects related to the Lacombe Memorial Centre and the city’s parks and playgrounds round out the funding requests.
Most of the county’s contribution is comprised of a $977,142 share of the cost of upgrading the arena. It represents 29 per cent of the bill for nearly $3.3-million project, a share that is based on the estimated percentage of county users.A $348,548 contribution represents a 31 per cent share of a $1.1-million roof repair and chemical/pump expansion at the Aquaplex.
A little over $51,000 will go to smaller projects connected with the Lacombe Memorial Centre, parks and playgrounds.
While council fully supported paying its share of costs, there was also concern that significant funding requests are coming that must be planned for.
County commissioner Terry Hager said council can expect to see major requests for the next three to five years as Lacombe finishes the planned recreation upgrades, necessary to bring the city’s biggest recreation facility up to current safety codes.
The city’s request to the county was actually $1.376 million. But an asked-for 25 per cent share of a $30,000 fountain in Cranna Lake and a $75,000 green spaces plan were rejected as not fitting in with county funding policies.