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Competing visions: Edmonton exploring options other than Northlands’ plan for Coliseum

WATCH ABOVE:: An open house is being held Wednesday to gather opinions on competing visions for what to do with Northlands Coliseum now that the Edmonton Oilers have moved to a new arena. Sarah Kraus reports.

Northlands proposed a multi-sheet ice facility for the Coliseum – formerly known as Rexall Place – but the city wants to consider all options, and all sports.

As part of its Vision 2020, Northlands sees a future with the Coliseum filled with six or seven sheets of ice, 12 months of the year.

READ MORE: New $165M vision for Northlands includes 7-sheet ice facility, outdoor concert space

However, the city says that many ice rinks aren’t needed year-round.

With Edmonton’s current inventory of about 30 rinks, city staff say there’s not enough demand for an additional six rinks throughout the year. In the winter, there would be demand, but not in the summer.

READ MORE: Northlands Vision 2020 doing too much with too little: City of Edmonton

So, council has directed administration to look at alternate options as well, that could see the Coliseum turned into more of a sports multiplex.

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“Today is about gathering information from the community and the sports organizations to see what their demands are for those sports,” Citizen Services director Judith Rohovie said, “and if there are demands, we need to meet in other sports and in other active recreation that we may want to consider as part of the repurposing of the Coliseum.”

Public open houses are being held Wednesday and Thursday so residents can provide input on what sports and services they want to see prioritized. An online survey is also available.

READ MORE: New poll shows most Edmonton residents want city to run Northlands 

The city says everything is on the table – from space for soccer, tennis, lacrosse, rock climbing and even electronic sports. Northlands’ six-sheets-of-ice idea is still being considered but the city is trying to find a balance.

“Everyone wants their child to have prime-time ice and making sure people can enjoy their recreation at reasonable times,” Rohovie said. “But sometimes other sports also need space too.

“We are seeing a growing demand for court sports and for concrete use like lacrosse and ball hockey.”

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The results of the open houses and survey will be made public early next year before being presented to council in April 2017.

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READ MORE: Dozens speak at public hearing for Northlands’ Vision 2020 at city hall

Campbell Mackenzie felt it was important to attend Wednesday’s event with his son.

“I brought my son here today because Northlands has meant a lot to me through my life. My dad brought me when I was a child and I grew up watching the great Oiler teams in the 1980s,” he said.

“The building has a lot of historical significance to me and I want my son to be part of the decision making for the next life of the building.”

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The city says there are no plans to demolish Northlands Coliseum.

Fourteen-year-old Kiev Kineshanko attended the open house with his dad and brother. He said it’s important to him to be part of the decision making process on a building that’s so iconic to Edmontonians.

“I really want to help out the community with choosing the right sports to be in the Coliseum. It was a great place for the Oilers and I think it will be a great place for the community to play sports.”

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Wednesday’s open house runs until 8 p.m. inside multipurpose room 6 at the Commonwealth Recreation Centre. Thursday’s event runs from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m.

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If you’re not able to make it to one of the open houses, a public survey will be available on the city’s website from Nov. 16 to Dec. 1.

Northlands did not immediately return Global News’ calls for comment.

With files from Sarah Kraus, Global News