Council to finalize recreation centre design at special meeting on Monday

Members of Prince Albert City Council met for their first meeting after being sworn in on Monday. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Prince Albert city council will vote on the final design details for the new Indoor Aquatic and Arenas Recreation Centre at a special council meeting on Monday.

The recommendations include an 51,500 square foot pool with eight lanes and seating for 200 spectators, which would allow Prince Albert to host provincial swimming competitions. Reducing the pool size from eight lanes down to six was one of several cost saving measures debated when architects presented the design options to council on Jan. 14.

Local swim club members said they were excited by the new design choices, but urged city council to keep the pool as big as possible. In a letter to city council, the Prince Albert Sharks Swim Club said provincial swimming competitions could attract more than 200 swimmers to the city for a three or four day event. However, those events will never happen if the pool and seating areas don’t meet the right requirements.

“Although the savings proposed … appear attractive, we worry that the compromises required will greatly reduce the attractiveness of the facility for hosting swim meets,” the letter reads.

“Over the projected service life of the aquatic centre, changes to regulations for competition pools are possible, and have indeed been seen with minimum water depths in the past few years. For this reason, we would caution against designing to just meet code minimums.”

Reducing the pool size from eight to six lanes would save the city an estimated $1.9-million.

The Frank Dunn Pool cannot host provincial events because it has only five lanes. Roughly 19 per cent of all programming at city pools involves competitive swimming.

The recommendations included in Monday’s agenda package also call for council to approve a single building design, as opposed to a campus design favoured by the architects who won the design tender.

City administrators say a single building will make lighting and heating more efficient, and allow families to access multiple services without having to walk outside during bad weather. The two architectural firms designing the building recommended the campus design because it created less congestion, and made the area more accessible for vehicles.

Council will also vote on creating an Aquatic and Arenas Recreation Project Fundraising Committee. The City will receive $44-million in federal and provincial funding for the rec centre, but still need another $16-million to cover all the costs.

The fundraising committee would be responsible for creating realistic fundraising targets, and developing a donor recognition program for different levels of corporate and private contributions. According to a report included in the agenda package, the City anticipates that roughly $15-million will be raised through fundraising activities “to ensure the viability of the project.”

The committee would include Mayor Greg Dionne, Ward 3 Coun. Don Cody, and at least three at large members. The selected members will serve three year terms.

“The composition of the committee will preferably include business and community leaders, and individuals who have previously been involved in major capital fundraising initiatives and/or have a background in marketing and promotions,” the agenda package reads.

The Indoor Aquatic and Arenas Conceptual Design is one of six items on the agenda for Monday’s special council meeting. Council members will also vote on the 2021 rates and fees for Cooke Municipal Golf Course, and on two Urban Highway Connector Program items.

The meeting begins at 4 p.m. at City Hall.