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Deputy Mayor: More community centre delays 'will cost us in the long run'

'I want to make sure if we're doing this, we're doing it once and we're doing it right'

In posing questions to the team responsible for the design of the proposed Community and Recreation Centre, Deputy Mayor Tanya Vrebosch indicated it is important to make sure all the boxes are checked and concerns addressed before moving forward.

"I want to make sure if we're doing this, we're doing it once and we're doing it right," she said.

Vrebosch cited previous municipal projects from which design features were phased out or simply overlooked. She spoke of the sound system at Memorial Gardens and the lack of change rooms at the Steve Omischl Sports Complex as examples. 

Following the trials and tribulations with the West Ferris Community Centre's roof, she also wondered about any anticipated need for snow removal on the new facility's roof.

See related story: Six figures to keep arena's roof free of snow

"I am a little concerned with the contingency amount," of five per cent admitted Vrebosch, who also serves as the budget chief. "I'd rather know what the real cost is, making sure we don't go over-budget and making sure we have everything included."

See also: Updated price tag for new community and recreation centre to be revealed

And: 'We can deliver' community and recreation centre 'on budget'

She then asked joint-design team representatives, Nathan Jensen of Mitchell Jensen Architects and Marc Downing of MJMA Architects if the arena presentation given during a special committee meeting Tuesday represented an "all-inclusive package?"

Downing responded, saying "the purpose of our multiple stakeholder meetings, taking notes during public meetings, and our own [thorough meetings], we are of exactly the same mindset. It's not good for anybody to have to go back and revisit a design when you're under construction."

He added, from the insulation to the mechanical systems to the roof, "Our intent for this whole process is to do it right once."
Jensen handled the question about snow removal on the roof. 

"The main point is the roof on the new facility is nearly a flat roof. It's not a dome. It definitely makes it a lot easier to remove snow, if snow actually needed to be removed."

Vrebosch explained her thought process and line of questioning after the meeting with, "We're spending $100,000 to clear snow off of a roof of a building which is a band-aid solution," at West Ferris Community Centre.

Jensen indicated the need for a roof-wide clearing of snow would be unlikely in a typical season.

"I think it's important to recognize buildings built today to code anticipate very significant snow loads on their roofs," he continued. "It would be a very unusual situation where you would proactively need to remove snow from this roof."

Vrebosch says she looks forward to more discussion about the project with her colleagues as 2021 budget deliberations ramp up with a meeting Thursday evening and a full slate next week.

With two large upcoming capital projects in the Cassellholme redevelopment and the proposed community and recreation centre looming, Vrebosch says steps were taken to balance the capital budget over a ten-year period.

"We've got a financial plan that keeps it all within the capital budget being presented. It's not adding any money to it, it's working within the existing budget," she adds.

What of calls from the public saying now is not the time to be spending millions on the community and recreation centre?

Vrebosch uses the escalating costs associated with the Cassellholme project delays as an example. 

See: Cassellholme expansion going to tender

As far as Cassellholme she cautioned, "I think they started off around $40 million and they're now predicting it will come in the range of $90 million. We need to make a decision, we need to move forward," with the community centre, she said, noting the project has already been delayed due to questions over the location and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Let's get the tender amount and vote on it," she said. "The longer we wait and the longer we're indecisive about something we know we need to do, the more it's going to cost us in the long run."

Stu Campaigne

About the Author: Stu Campaigne

Stu Campaigne is a full-time news reporter for, focusing on local politics and sharing our community's compelling human interest stories.
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