After a week of debating, agreeing and disagreeing, Lethbridge City Council approved the 2018-2027 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) on Tuesday.
Early on in the deliberation process, the design of an Exhibition Park Convention Centre was voted down, but after reconsideration, council found a way to keep it on the table.
“We’re talking about a facility that attracts events to the community that currently do not come to this community,” Exhibition Park CEO Rudy Friesen said.
The current CIP will get the site shovel ready, but Friesen says construction can’t come soon enough.
“If they can’t be accommodated here, they can’t go to another facility in the city or across the river,” he said. “They’re going to another city, they’re going to Red Deer, they’re going to Medicine Hat, they’re going to Saskatoon. That’s business lost to the city of Lethbridge and that’s why we believe this is important for the community.”
The final phase of renovations at Spitz Stadium was also approved. It includes construction of an upper-level concourse, a new media and announcer booth and other upgrades. It’s estimated to be complete in about one year and has a price tag of over $2 million.
“It’s been a facility that’s been well utilized by the City of Lethbridge for many years, we have thousands of people who come and enjoy the baseball games throughout the season,” Lethbridge Bulls President Kevin Kvame said. “Hopefully, it’s going to be a facility that we’ll be proud of for years to come.”
Other significant projects recommended for funding include a new west Lethbridge fire station, an expansion to the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, a Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden Community Facility, the planning and design of a Performing Arts Centre, 3rd Avenue South reconstruction and the twinning of University Drive West.
“I think we struck a good balance in the projects we funded and we’ve been responsible by not spending all the available money by keeping back $10 million so we can match that money to future grants available from other levels of government,” Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman said.
The funded CIP is to include a total of $385 million in municipal 2018-21 capital projects in three major areas: Community Facilities ($145 million), Transportation ($70 million), and Utilities ($170 million).
A complete list of projects can be found on the city’s website lethbridge.ca.