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Recreation facilities planned for Calgary to be built using a public-private partnership PDF Print E-mail
Written by Shannon Galley   
Thursday, 22 September 2011 09:50

Four new recreational facilities planned for Calgary could be built and maintained using a P3 model, based on a public-private partnership. This is a partnership between the city, community and a private partner to build and run the facilities.

A community engagement session was held Sept. 15 to showcase the project and to receive community input. Three of the recreational facilities could be located in the southeast and one in the northwest.

Northwest area residents check out proposed plans for the four recreation facilities at an information session held September 15th in Silver Springs.
Photo by: Shannon Galley

Brenda Elliott and Bertha Staddon are northwest area residents and mothers who were at the information session and say the northwest facility is long overdue.

“This was needed 25 years ago,” Elliot says.

“It will be a busy place,” Staddon adds. “It will feed a lot of communities in and out of this community.”

The two mothers are pleased with the plans for the facilities and are hoping that the northwest recreation facility will take priority.

Paul Sinclair, chair of the Northwest Community Advisory Group, says the group’s role is to provide community engagement for the project.

“The feedback has been positive but people are saying that it is about time.”

Karen Young is with The City of Calgary’s recreation department and is the project manager for the recreation centres. Young says the city conducted a study with 6,000 Calgarians and found big gaps in recreational amenities.

According to the Government of Alberta, the contract with the private partner saves taxpayers money because there is a set price and a guaranteed delivery date. The government can also allocate inflation, weather delays and other risk factors to the private partner. With the contract there is also a warranty for the project, taking the burden off the city and province.

Young says the unique P3 model is the city’s traditional model, with “a little twist.”

“With the P3 model the contractor is designing, financing and building the facilities and the programmer is responsible for programs and activities,” Young explains. “We can deliver facilities quicker, with a large consortium coming together and the city doesn’t have to use all its resources, which can slow things down.”

The programmer could be a for-profit like the Cardel Place model or a not-for-profit such as the YMCA. This is the first time a P3 model has been used to build a recreational facility in Canada.

The northwest recreation facility, slated to be built at Country Hills Boulevard and Rocky Ridge Road is going to be a multi-purpose facility. Plans are in the works for and aquatic component consisting of a lap pool, waterslides, arenas, and a field house with indoor soccer fields as well as community multi-purpose rooms.

But not everyone is happy with the amenities within the facilities. Jeff Spiers, Community Development Coordinator for Tennis Alberta, says that these new facilities do not accommodate tennis in Calgary.

“The tennis community is left out,” Spiers says. “We’ve been asking the city for years, but we aren’t being listened to. We don’t need anymore outdoor facilities in Calgary.”

In the plans for the recreation centres tennis is only accommodated outside and Spiers wants to see more indoor facilities. There are 10 indoor courts for the public in Calgary currently. Spiers has created a brochure to address this issue and is also starting a petition.

“I have sent out emails to 1,000 people,” Spiers says. “We are going to keep fighting.”

Brenda Elliot also wonders why the southeast will receive three facilities, while her northwest area is only getting one.

“We are desperate over here, we have to drive to the southeast, northeast, Westhills, and even Airdrie.”

Stacey Scott, with City of Calgary Recreation, says the locations of the facilities were determined by an amenities gap analysis and a growth projection into various areas of the city.

According to the city’s website the estimated total cost for the project is $430 million. The timeline for these facilities is still being worked out, but ground could be broken in 2014.

This was the second of two community engagement sessions this month, with no more sessions planned.

For more information, visit the city’s website, the community engagement website - Southeast Calgary Recreation society, or the Northwest Community Advisory Group on Facebook.

Editors note: This story was updated on October 12, 2011.