Council to vote on land purchase and arena design project at Monday meeting

Screen capture from PowerPoint presentation included in the Jan. 14 executive committee meeting agenda package. All three designs were included in the presentation, but architects and city administrators recommended using design three. Colour code: pool area (blue), rink area (orange), lobby (yellow), future community space (green), events centre (purple). The events centre is part of phase two. The rest is phase one.

Prince Albert City Council will vote on a plan to purchase another seven acres of land near the new Indoor Arena and Aquatics Recreation Centre when they meet for Monday’s regular council meeting

If approved, the City would pay $2.537-million to Signature Development Corp. for the property. That works out to around $362,500/acre. The City plans to develop a parking area with stalls for at least 1,214 vehicles for the proposed 4,500 seat Arena and Event Centre.

Mayor Greg Dionne said parking and vehicle access are among his biggest concerns as the City continues with the new development. He argued the purchase would help address the issue at a good price.

“For the past three years I have been at the majority of Raider games speaking with people attending the games, and overwhelmingly what I heard was the need for more parking,” Dionne said in a media release. “Expanded space for parking is an important component of this project. We are also sensitive to the issue of access in-and-out of the facility, and this will be a top consideration as we head into detailed design with both architect firms.”

Council plans to use roughly $2.2-million in federal Gas Tax Support and Canada Community-Building Funding to pay for the property. The rest of the funds will come from the Civic Facilities Reserve.

Dionne defended the cost of the land, saying it was below market value compared to recent commercial land sales in the area. The City purchased 18 acres of land from Signature Developments last June, also at a cost of roughly $362,000/acre

The acquisition would make the City owners of 25 acres of Signature Developments’ proposed 80-acre entertainment district.

Council will also debate the new design for the 4,500 seat arena that will eventually house the Prince Albert Raiders. Administration has recommended awarding the project to BBB and KSA Architects, who have offices in Toronto and Saskatoon, at an estimated cost of roughly $3.2-million. Those funds will also come from the Civic Facilities Reserve.

In a report included in Monday’s agenda package, City Manager Jim Toye wrote that the firm had extensive experience with large arenas.

“They are able to bring together aesthetics with high-performance functionality within their designs,” Toye wrote. “Their experience with NHL sized arenas are exceptional.”

BBB and KSA Architects developed Rogers Place in Vancouver, which is used by the NHL’s Canucks, along with the Credit Union Centre in Windsor, and the Budweiser Gardens in London. Both arenas are used by OHL clubs. BBB and KSA were one of 15 firms who submitted proposals to the City of Prince Albert.

City administrators interviewed the top five companies for 45 minutes each prior to making their recommendation. All firms were required to submit price quotes for each phase of the project.

Dionne said approving the large arena design will help bring some clarity to the process, and help construction proceed in a smooth and timely manner.

“We can discuss the project as a whole, rather than each element in isolation, with both Architect firms working collaboratively to move the project forward,” Dionne said in a media release. “With detailed design happening on the same schedule, we can be sure the space is designed with the ultimate vision in mind.”

The parking lot and arena design items are two of 22 reports from administration and committees up for debate on Monday. The agenda also includes two motions from Coun. Blake Edwards about the Kinsmen Ball Diamonds, which were refereed from the April 12 city council meeting. The meeting begins at 5 p.m. in City Hall. Public health measures are still in force.