A new advocacy group was formed Monday night among west Edmonton community leagues looking to lobby city council to make sure the Lewis Farms rec centre gets built.
“It’s all about community engagement,” said Rebecca Goldsack, the president of the Lewis Estates Community League, which has partnered with both the Secord Community League and the Rosenthal community group, representing between 12,000 and 15,000 west end residents.
The mobilization comes just days before the city unveils its projected four-year capital budget on Thursday.
“We’ve started a task force, put together by the three main community leagues, to essentially push the issue to make sure this project gets built.”
“We’ve reached out to not only our communities, specifically in the west end, but to other areas like Terwillegar,” Goldsack said in a phone interview Tuesday.
“If our project gets delayed, Heritage Valley is probably next in line for a rec centre, so it’s going to delay that rec centre. Eventually the north is going to need a rec centre, so by delaying this four years, it’s going to delay other projects.”
The project comes with an estimated $300-million pricetag and would be a larger rec centre than the one in Terwillegar, although it would have more of an emphasis on aquatics and less on hockey, with only two sheets of ice.
“You’ve got Terwillegar, which was designed for 800,000 visitors a year. It’s currently seeing 1.5 million,” said Paul Andrews from Rosenthal.
He said that demand is not going to go away.
“Of that, 41 per cent of those visits are coming from west Edmonton postal codes.”
Watch: Mon, Nov 17 – 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.
The plan is to counter the public narrative of the business community, that is looking to keep property tax increases as low as possible, and the comments made by Mayor Don Iveson when he released his five-point plan to help achieve that goal.
“People are honestly quite fired up about this.
“It’s a very hot topic for west end residents, especially when the mayor came out with the notion that the levy was on the table,” Goldsack said of a levy to locally raise money.
She said it’s unfair because Lewis Estates residents’ tax dollars have helped build other facilities in all corners of the city.
Andrews said they’ll turn out in numbers at City Hall on Nov. 15 when a public hearing is held on the capital budget.
He said one of his messages will be to counter what the developer has been saying as part of the zero tax increase campaign.
“This is being built in a Melcor community,” Andrews pointed out. “All of their marketing to their perspective clients has been, ‘Hey, come buy in Rosenthal, we’re going to have a rec centre within walking distance from your home.’
“And I know Melcor is on the committee for Prosperity Edmonton so it’s sort of this fine line of: ‘We need it for our marketing promotion and we need it because this is how we’re marketing our community, but we’re also saying we don’t want it built.'”