WATCH ABOVE: As city council starts budget deliberations, Vinesh Pratap takes a look at the Rec the West movement, a campaign to have a new rec centre built in the west end.
EDMONTON – It’s a city amenity that tens of thousands of people take advantage of.
Over the last number of years, Global News has reported how a number of large new recreation centres — Terwillegar and Commonwealth — have opened their doors in recent years. The Meadows and Clareview centres will open soon.
But, one area of Edmonton is without: the west end.
The Jasper Place Rec Centre, located at 9200 163 Street, has a pool and a small fitness room, but compared to facilities that have recently been built, space is tight.
Now, there’s a movement afoot urging west Edmonton residents to show their support for a new multi-use recreation centre.
It’s called ‘Rec the West.’
In an email to Global News, the Glastonbury Community League president says residents are frustrated and upset.
“Delaying the rec centre for potentially seven years is unfair to the thousands of residents in our area that have next to no city facilities and amenities nearby,” writes Jason Rumer.
Area community leagues also sent a letter to Edmonton City Council outlining the recent and expected growth of the city’s west end communities. (The letter can be read in full below.)
According to the census, west Edmonton wards 1 and 5 are home to just over 139,000 people.
As council begins budget deliberations, the two councillors representing the west end are supportive of the idea of a new rec centre, but the bottom line is funding.
“A lot of it is going to come down to how much debt they want to put on, if they want to put on anything extra,” said Ward 5 councillor Michael Oshry.
“If they’re not willing to put on debt, I would like to see at least the design piece of the rec centre, so that way the actual build could happen in the following four-year capital cycle.”
Meanwhile, Ward 1 councillor Andrew Knack believes a west end rec centre would actually make money.
“The benefit of this one – because it’s going to be along the scale of Terwillegar – it will likely be an investment in that we’ll actually make money on the operations of that facility.”
At the very least, both councillors would like to see funds put aside to design the facility in this capital plan.
“I’ve got my opinion,” said Oshry. “I think if you’ve got some projects that provide value – and the cost of money is relatively inexpensive right now – it might be the right time to do a bit of spending. This is one of the projects I think has a ‘want’ and there’s been an up-swell from the community for this project.”
The debate will begin when public hearing takes place next week at city hall.