Sports facilities are in high demand in greater Edmonton, and a group in St. Albert is hoping its twist on the conventional recreational centre can help ease the burden on taxpayers, while opening up the ice to more young athletes.
After a year of meetings with stakeholders and politicians, Active Communities Alberta is unveiling its plan for a new rec centre to the public.
“Ultimately, we found a creative solution that reduces the burden on taxpayers and adds incremental facilities to the area,” Active Communities Alberta president Matt Bachewich said.
In Edmonton, most sports facilities are municipally run, but Active Communities Alberta is a non-profit organization.
“Non-profits are able to access a lot more funding streams than your typical city. Non-profits are able to access grants donations from the public, corporate donations, gaming funds,” Bachewich said.
The organization’s research indicated St. Albert was one of the most under-served areas when it comes to sports facilities, especially ice rinks.
“We certainly will incorporate twin ice sheets. We will incorporate gymnasium space and community rooms and community programming,” Bachewich said.
The group has yet to announce an exact location for a facility, but they want to position it in north or northwest St. Albert, along Ray Gibbons Drive so there’s easy access for teams from Edmonton.
“We support it because it will provide another two rinks in St. Albert. We currently have five,” St. Albert Minor Hockey Association president Gill Hermanns said.
Hermanns said young hockey players in St. Albert are regularly forced to skate elsewhere.
“My biggest fear when we do that is the kids having to travel in winter to Onoway, Callihoo, Legal, when they shouldn’t have to.”
Gymnastics groups and ringette clubs are also on board, and the area’s MLA thinks they won’t be alone.
“If they can make it work here, I think it’s certainly helpful. Takes some off the stress of the taxpayers,” Spruce Grove – St. Albert MLA Trevor Horne said.
The estimated cost would be between $35 million and $45 million.
“The ultimate goal would be to have this facility open in late 2019 or sometime in 2020,” Bachewich said.
– With files from Global News Sarah Kraus