District of Sparwood gateway banner. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Sparwood starts to envision new multi-purpose facility for district

The district is exploring options for a new facility in the district following community consultation

Sparwood is set to dream big when it comes to the multi-purpose indoor facility on the district’s wish-list.

At a Committee of the Whole meeting of the District of Sparwood, district staff had asked for guidance on how to proceed with putting out requests for proposals for initial concepts of a new multi-purpose facility, with councillors opting to direct staff to add indoor soccer, a facility kitchen and a space large enough for 600-800 attendees to the already large list of wanted features to be factored in to feasibility studies and designs.

The council set the budget roof of a potential facility at $30 million, with options to revise it downwards based on further feedback down the line.

Mayor David Wilks said that it was important to do things right at the start of the process, and leave room for future changes not only in the project but in community expectations and needs.

“We should never build for now – always build for 30 years (from now)” he said.

District staff had asked the council for guidance on what to define as the project scope for consultants that would be eventually engaged by the district to design and perfect what would eventually become a shovel-ready project – should the district ever decide to pull the trigger.

For now, besides the funding to engage consultants and request proposals, everything is spit-balling. District residents will have the final say.

“It’s imperative for the residents of Sparwood to know that this would go to a referendum,” said Wilks.

Community consultation and feedback through the district’s Recreational Master Plan (adopted earlier this year) had been leading the district towards an entirely new facility for the district to meet community desires for indoor space.

Under the Recreational Master Plan, a proposal had been put forward to re-purpose the curling rink at the Sparwood Rec Centre, but after community opposition, the option of a stand-alone new facility was the only option left on the table.

The study, when conducted indicated that a new standalone facility on a new plot of land would cost between $14.9 and $22 million.

According to the staff report, through consultation as part of the Recreational Master Plan, the community had expressed a desire for additional facilities including an indoor walking / running track, increased access to general recreation and sport space, arts and cultural space and community gathering space.

“Based on these results staff are recommending the initial design guidelines would encompass the inclusion of multipurpose gymnasiums (tw0), multi-purpose rooms (up to three), running / walking track, (and the) facility to be designed to be converted into an event space,” reads the report, with councillors adding their above suggestions at the meeting on Tuesday Mar. 2.

“It is the intent of Staff to issue a request for proposal to engage a consultant with expertise in community engagement, facility design, and costing to develop a conceptual design for a new, stand alone, multipurpose facility.”

The consultants would also be tasked with identifying the best location for the new facility on district land.

Community consultation would be pursued after some initial renderings of a possible multi-purpose facility were created, and at other stages throughout the process.

Mayor Wilks has long insisted that given the high cost of a new standalone facility, the question of community consultation and involvement in it’s development and possible construction would include a referendum following the next local government election.

“The District of Sparwood only has so much borrowing capacity, and we don’t want to get into a predicament where we borrow as much as we can on this project, and then an emergency comes up where we do need money, and we’re in no position to do anything,” he said in November last year.

“So I think the referendum question would probably go down the lines of ‘what are you willing to accept as a tax increase to fulfill the obligations of a multiplex’, and then that would give us some idea.”

READ MORE: Sparwood adopts recreation master plan



scott.tibballs@thefreepress.ca
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