City vows new indoor rec facility will draw crowds to Prince Albert

The City of Prince Albert says the new pool will be larger than the one in Melfort.

City councilors compared the plan for the new aquatics centres to the City of Melfort’s existing facility, saying Prince Albert’s will be larger, have more slides and pull people to Prince Albert for recreation.

Council approved multiple aspects of a project that will see two ice arenas and an indoor swimming complex built at the south end of the city, at their regular meeting on Jan. 24.

“The square footage of the aquatics pad in the new arena is 150,000 square feet, That’s considerably larger than in Melfort,” said Director of Public Works, Wes Hicks, in response to questions from council.

In addition, there is a main pool, a wave pool and two water slides that are larger than Melfort has. The jacuzzi and lazy river are also larger, he said. The pool will also have a gradual entry with play structures for smaller children.

“This is going to be a very, very, impressive building,” said Coun. Blake Edwards. “This is very exciting for Prince Albert. I can’t wait for this to be built.”

Staff plan to start construction in April. They expect it will take about two years to be completed.

Council made no effort to hide they are competing for recreation business from Melfort.

“They have got us for the last 10 years, and now we’ll reverse it,” said Mayor Greg Dionne.

The 75 per cent detailed design was presented to council in order to allow the architects to get ready to invite qualified general contractors to bid.

People with reduced mobility were consulted about accessibility and user groups were also given input.

“They’re going to be a big part of the excitement to move into this facility,” said Coun. Ted Zurakowski.

The City has been facing issues such as pool temperatures when competitive swims happen versus what is needed for more recreational needs. The new facility will not have that problem.

“In my opinion on the parks and recreation said the biggest value in the new aquatics centre is that you’re going to be able to operate a leisure area in conjunction with a 25 meter, eight lane competitive pool,” said Jody Boulet, Director of Community Services.

“We’re going to see much greater attendance as this new facility. And not just from Prince Albert residents. We’re going to see the region and we’re going to see the province.”

The competition pool was approved with the design concept of stairs and a lift davit in order to meet accessibility specifications.

“There is no limitation because we have both stairs and a lift. We can do wheelchairs, we can do walkers, any disabled person we can get into the water,” said Dionne.

Having two ice pads for the skating arena area will allow for larger events and tournaments to be hosted in Prince Albert and solves some problems for user groups. 

“The ability to go back and forth to two rinks that are under one roof creates logistical opportunities for those tournaments or event hosting opportunities,” Boulet explained.

Council also approved the parking lot design but not without discussion. Some councillors asked about how environmental considerations impacted decisions and whether there would be electric vehicle charging stations.

“We can confirm that the technology that goes into these new builds takes into account that sustainability moving forward,” said Boulet.

He used the example of capturing heat from the ice plant and distributing it around the building to reduce heating costs.

“The new technology allows you to capture it and distribute it around your facility,” Boulet said. “It allows you to reduce your requirement and reduce your footprint.”

All lighting will be LED and things like taps will be contactless.

Coun. Tara Lennox-Zepp asked if electric charging stations would be available and was told that they would be considered where there is charging for it.

“We are looking at where there’s power putting in towers so you can put $10 in and get $10 worth of power,” said Dionne.

That decision has not been finalized yet.

Council approved the decisions recommended by staff, with Councillors Tony Head, Charlene Miller and Tara Lennox -Zepp opposed.