The final design for the Lewis Farms rec centre and surrounding park space will be unveiled Tuesday. But is it the final design?
Councillor Andrew Knack confirms he’ll ask questions during the budget debate if it’s worthwhile to add an additional two sheets of NHL-size ice, even though the concept plan only calls for two, instead of four, rinks.
“There’s been a lot of detailed design work.
“The question would be: how much more space does that take up? How does that effect your operating budget?” Knack told reporters ahead of the open house.
Four rinks would mirror what was built in Terwillegar which opened in 2011. The extra two sheets happened at the urging of southwest residents who raised money through the Terwillegar Riverbend Area Council. (TRAC)
“When you look at something like Terwillegar, obviously that’s been a big draw, having four sheets,” Knack said of the extra revenue that’s allowing Terwillegar to break even.
“The public feedback we had heard at the time (of earlier public consultation for Lewis Farms) was their priority was a larger pool space because there’s such a backlog for swimming lessons in this city across pretty much the entire city.”
Knack agrees that the close proximity to the Anthony Henday would be a good draw for hockey use across Metro Edmonton.
The west-end councillor said he doubts the size of the aquatic component to the rec centre will be reduced in size because of cost. Knack said that’s based on earlier feedback in the process.
“Are you willing to invest — at the time it was about an extra $8.3 million — in having that additional space? And the overwhelming message from participants during that public engagement was: yes, it’s better to invest upfront because we have such a backlog right now on swim space in this city.
“They were willing to say yeah, it’s worth spending that extra money.”
The $275-million project is not currently funded in the proposed 2019-2022 Capital Budget.
To make the numbers work, an additional one per cent would have to be added to the proposed property tax increases that begin a 3.3 per cent in 2019 and eventually scale back to two per cent at the end of the four years.
Knack said city council will be looking to make cuts in other areas of the budget to allow for projects like Lewis Farms.
“It’s one per cent split over a number of years so we wouldn’t even have that entire one per cent felt in this four-year budget cycle.
“There will still be some of that one per cent going into the next four-year,” Knack said.
“The hope is that we can go through these areas and we can look critically at a number of other areas that don’t fall within our mandate, so we can do those investments in those things that do fall within our mandate.”
He’s also opposed to a special levy for neighbouring residents, as proposed by Mayor Don Iveson. Knack said the extra levy is only appropriate for about three neighbourhoods beyond the ring road that have yet to have begun development.
“That (Lewis Farms) is one of our oldest suburban communities outside of the Henday.
“To ask the residents outside the Henday who have moved in in the last five or 10 or 28 years to pay an additional levy for that infrastructure seems like a really odd process when they have been paying so much of their taxes over the last, in some cases, decades to all of this other infrastructure.”
The design plans for the Lewis Farms rec centre and park district will be on display at the Conference Centre at the West Edmonton Christian Assembly, 6315 199 Street, Tuesday evening from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.