City of Red Deer administration proposes a $173-million capital budget that features new facilities and upgrades for the 2019 Canada Winter Games, increased spending on roads and basic infrastructure.
In what is expected to be an all-day affair today, council will consider some 105 projects. Some can be dismissed and others deferred others to the 10-year plan during the annual capital budget deliberations.
And for the first time, council will consider the projects alongside the recently completed Community Amenities Consultation document. Over a period of months, residents were asked to tell the city what amenities they would like to see in future Red Deer.
One of the big ticket items on the table this year is the replacement of the Red Deer Arena ($21.5 million). It was built in 1952 and upgraded in 1978 and 1995. The arena is one of the key facilities slated for the 2019 winter games.
City manager Craig Curtis told media on Monday that it makes better financial sense to replace the arena than to repair the facility. The entire building has about three to five years left while the roof has one to three years in its lifespan.
Curtis said it would take about $8 million to renovate the arena and would only extend the facility for another 10 to 15 years. Building new would increase the life of the arena significantly. The multi-year project will also include resurfacing the parking lot.
In order to build the area in time for the games, planning would start in 2015 and construction would be completed in 2018.
Council approved $26 million in June for the upcoming games and most of the major projects — upgrades to Canyon Ski Hill, enhancing River Bend and building a long-track speed skating track and turf at Great Chief Park — will get underway next year. The provincial and federal governments are expected to kick in $3 million each in grants.
During the capital budget talks, council will be asked to approve the borrowing bylaw for $20 million, the amount not covered by grants.
Administration is recommending allocating $8.2 million to crown paving in 2015, compared to the $7.9 million in 2014.
The road budget is proposed at a $15.2 million, including preventive maintenance and $6.5 million for construction.
Curtis said the city surveys clearly indicate that residents are not as happy with road maintenance compared to other service areas.
Two of the city’s five fire stations may be relocated in 2015 in order to meet safety standards. A site in the southeast will become the new Fire Station 3 ($7.9 million) and Fire Station 4 will close in Deer Park and a new location will reopen in the northeast. ($7 million). A sixth station is on the books for a 2025 build.
Administration is recommending allocating $8.8 million this year for the North Red Deer Regional Community Centre at the corner of 77th Street and Taylor Drive, at the Glendale School site. Council previously spent $334,000 on the project. A detailed design, traffic impact assessment and business plan, including a detailed operational model, will be developed in 2015.
Mayor Tara Veer expects council to have vigorous debate around the capital budget and the 10-year plan. She expects the most consensus on core infrastructure and maintenance.
“But council will have key decisions around the future growth directions around the community, but also around amenities,” said Veer. “We are hearing a lot of feedback from the community on a lot of fronts.”
The major projects account for $72.7 million out of the $173-million proposed budget. The projects will be funded out of debt, grants, reserves and operating budget transfer.
Other budget highlights:
l Timberlands (residential development services) — $12 million in 2015.
l Red Deer Riverbank Slope stabilization in Riverview — $6.4 million. The project was moved ahead in July by council after a report recommended stabilization to stop the regression.
l Street light conversion to LED — $4.9 million.
l Natural gas fueling station — $3.7 million. The city expects to receive some funding through the provincial GreenTrip program.
l 30th Avenue/ 67th Street roundabout — $3.12 million.
l 30th Avenue arterial roadway — $1.82 million.
l Red Deer Regional Airport Runway expansion — $1.75 million. This is subject to matched funding from Red Deer County of Red Deer, and both the provincial and federal governments.
l RCMP downtown detachment second floor development — $1.08 million
l Alto Reste Cemetery Development and Expansion — $641,000. Administration is recommending buying the land for expansion, which was approved in the master plan.
l Inglewood Branch Library/Community Facility — $600,000. Administration is recommending building a community library in the new public school planned for the community, similar to the one at École Barrie Wilson. The funding would allow the school library space to expand by 200 square metres.