News / Edmonton

'Hugely needed' Edmonton Lewis Farms Rec Centre up for debate

$215-million rec centre to be discussed Friday

Here’s what the Lewis Farms Rec Centre could look like. The city has outlined its funding strategy for the site.

Courtesy / City of Edmonton

Here’s what the Lewis Farms Rec Centre could look like. The city has outlined its funding strategy for the site.

Edmonton’s $215-million Lewis Farms Rec Centre is “hugely needed,” says a west end community rep, as councillors prepare to debate the complex’s future later this year.

“The population is increasing every single year and there is no rec centre that would support the needs of west end residents,” said Irina Langreiter, president of the Lewis Estates Community League, in an interview Thursday.

“I have to take my daughter to St. Albert to skate, and she always asks, ‘Why isn’t there anything nearby?’”

A report heading to the community and public services committee Friday outlined new drawings for what the west end rec centre could look like, underscoring how much it would cost to build the site ($215 million) and operate it ($10 to $13 million annually).

The centre — which would feature a dive tank, pools, a fitness centre, “child development space,” rinks and a library — would fill a void in the growing west end, according to Langreiter.

“West Edmonton residents have been forgotten for sometime,” she said. “The next logical step for us is to have that project go forward.”

Another look at what the rec centre could look like.

Courtesy / City of Edmonton

Another look at what the rec centre could look like.

Councillors could indicate the next steps for the centre Friday, as the city would require up to $16.7 million to complete the design and get it ready for bidders looking to build.

The city, which plans to request increased funding in the coming months for that work, also has to undertake land deals with two owners who have space where the rec centre would go.

Both owners are open to such purchases, the report said, noting that acquiring the land is estimated to cost $9.32 million.

“Delays in the land acquisition would delay the delivery of the recreation centre and district park,” it said. “Appropriate time should be allocated to the land acquisition process to ensure that the land is in city ownership for the construction phase.”

If the design work is approved, the city will ask for further funds in 2019-22 during the capital budget process so the entire site can go ahead. Council will have the final say as to what happens with the site then.

“The majority of residents say they really need this,” Langreiter said. “Eighty per cent of the questions I get is this, and then it’s the LRT expansion.”

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