Lewis Estates rec centre could be delayed: report

Schematic designs for the proposed Lewis Estates rec centre in west Edmonton. Courtesy: City of Edmonton

There’s some mixed news for west Edmonton residents who have been watching the progress on the Lewis Estates rec centre and library project.

An updated report, heading to next week’s meeting of city council’s executive committee, proposes a new timeline while detailed plans are being drawn up.

The report still has the most recent price tag of $321 million that was first reported to city council in November of 2018. The report offers suggestions to reduce the costs, however, those reductions are things that no one wants to see.

The report lists scope reductions of $15 million for road and sewer work, cutting the size of the pool in half — reducing it from Olympic size at 54 metres to just 27 metres in length — and removing both the five- and seven-metre diving platforms. A cutback in outdoor maintenance would also save $4 million.

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“The good news from the report is that our administration is actually not recommending that,” said Councillor Andrew Knack. “They’re clearly saying that you could do that, but it’s not worth it.”

READ MORE: West Edmonton task force forms to fight for Lewis Estates rec centre

Even bigger savings that will be ignored, Knack said, would see $45 million taken off the price tag by delaying the twin rinks and the library.

Watch below: (From November 2018) Final designs for a proposed Lewis Farms rec centre in deep west Edmonton will be unveiled Tuesday. But the reveal comes during the final stages of city budget deliberations. Vinesh Pratap reports. 

Click to play video: 'Final design for Lewis Farms rec centre revealed Tuesday'
Final design for Lewis Farms rec centre revealed Tuesday

Some community leaders say they are glad the drastic measures won’t be taken. Rebecca Goldsack of the Lewis Estates Community League said reducing what would be available doesn’t make any sense, when swim lessons are impossible to come by.

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“You’d better be on the phone or on the internet registering, because you’re not going to get your kid in,” Goldsack said. “I have a three-year-old and I can’t register him.

“You’re on a wait list because it is just so overrun. They don’t have enough hours in the day to run all the programs that they need to run.”

Goldsack said the need is there for both rinks as well.

“A 10-year-old should not be playing hockey at 9:30 at night,” she said. “Right now, that’s the only ice time that’s available.

“Adding these two sheets of ice, that’s going to make a huge difference to what’s available in the city for kids to play hockey and be active.”

READ MORE: Edmonton mayor unveils 5-point plan for city’s ‘toughest budget in a decade’

Paul Andrews of the Rosenthal Community League said any design reductions would be wasting money.

“If they’re changing the pool, if they’re removing the dive tank, that means there’s engineering design that has to be adjusted,” he said. “Which means detailed design that’s being done is now going to be reworked, which costs money.”

The report proposes borrowing for the project, then paying the money back through a tax increase of 0.3 per cent, which is expected to generate $5.86 million starting in 2027.

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Goldsack said she doesn’t want more delays because time is money.

“Interest rates go up, costs of construction goes up, so we’re not saving anything by delaying it,” she said.

The new timetable in the report has the project going to tender late in 2020, with construction between 2021 and 2024. It would open in 2025.

“We were led to believe that it would be anywhere from 2023 and 2024,” Andrews said. “It was supposed to go to tender later this year with construction starting in 2020.”

“Yes, for the communities it means we’ve got to wait a little bit longer,” Knack said.

However, he added that by the city doing more due diligence, there won’t be any late surprises pushing the project back even further.

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