Calgary’s Repsol Sport Centre could be getting a multi-million dollar expansion if approved by city council.
On Wednesday morning, the city’s standing policy committee on community and protective services voted to put $45 million toward an expansion of the Repsol Centre so it can include more specialized aquatic amenities.
“The Repsol Center is a great gem,” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said. “It’s great for high performance sport, but it maybe isn’t a perfect place for families.”
The committee also approved $400,000 in one-time funding for both the Beltline and Inglewood rec centres to help them reopen in 2022 — funds originally earmarked for the 2020 season, which was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Beltline rec centre would re-open without the underused pool facilities and the rock climbing wall would only re-open for group bookings.
“Going forward, we propose repurposing the facility to provide integrated social and recreational programing, and we’re bringing on a consultant to help us determine the feasibility of that,” Heather Johnson, manager with Calgary community services, told the committee.
The Inglewood rec centre would open up more hours for community pool access and provide more programs that encourage social use of the pool.
“At the end of 2022, this facility would be measured against (use) targets previously set,” Johnson said. “If the targets are met, the facility would stay open. If targets aren’t met, the facility would close.
“And ultimately, when the specialized leisure amenities are ready and open at Repsol, the Inglewood facility would close.”
Following research and public engagement, city officials said the Repsol Centre is able to serve the greater downtown for general aquatic amenities, even after the closure of the Eau Claire YMCA and Beltline pools. A lack of area access to specialized aquatics, like zero-entry pools or lazy rivers, would constitute much of the Repsol expansion.
Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra, who chairs the committee, and Ward 7 Coun. Druh Farrell noted that Repsol isn’t connected to a pathway that allows for active modes of transportation like walking or cycling.
“Everyone may or may not recall that the part of the downtown cycle track that did not make it onto the built agenda was the southbound couplet of Macleod Trail and the opportunity to create a cycle track from river to river there, that would take you right to the Repsol Center from Chinatown,” Carra said.
If the expansion goes ahead a site master plan would be one of the first steps taken by city administration.
“That will be looking at connectivities from the site to the areas around it, and obviously modes of transportation being a piece of that,” Johnson said.
If approved by city council at their meeting on May 31, city administration would be directed to revise the city’s recreation capital investment strategy, an amendment brought by the mayor.
“What this is asking for is a very quick report from administration on a revised recreation capital investment strategy looking at current and future sources of funding, including the Community Recreation Levy and the Community Investment Reserve,” Nenshi said.
Ward 12 Coun. Shane Keating voted to oppose the one-time funding for the Beltline and Inglewood facilities, saying he would rather put the combined $800,000 towards a city-operated facility “that is going to survive,” or put the funds towards a grant to help families with Repsol memberships.