New change rooms planned for the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex will optimize ice allocation and make the venue attractive for leagues looking to host tournaments.
But they won’t come cheap.
Parks and recreation staff estimate the 4,150-square foot addition on the south side of the facility will cost between $2.4 million and $2.9 million, or approximately $560 per square foot.
The price tag caught a few at the council table off guard, including Mayor Richard Stewart, who said during Monday’s meeting the facility appeared to be operating fine with its existing change rooms.
“We are not always going to build everything with every possible element it can have,” he said. “None of our facilities are perfect. The difference between an excellent facility and a perfect facility can be hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Monday’s budget request comes as part of the second phase of an arena conversion plan that turned what was previously curling ice into general use ice.
The city has already spent $1.1 million adding boards and glass, a score clock and new ice cleaning equipment along with some building modifications, but said additional funds are necessary to complete the changeover.
When the work is complete, there will be four new change rooms with showers plus two new flex change rooms, which could be used by referees. To accommodate the new space, up to 25 parking stalls will be removed.
A staff report said additional change rooms would improve scheduling flexibility and provide more rental opportunities for the facility.
“The conversion… to general usage has been well used and programmed even without change rooms as it has been used for a range of programs not requiring support services,” said the report. “Nevertheless, these amenities would still be highly beneficial to support future arena use, hosting of tournaments and to optimize ice allocation for all user groups.”
Still, four council members were not convinced and voted against moving the project forward.
Coun. Brent Asmundson said he would like to wait another year for the completion of the city’s arena strategy and see how the usage numbers settle for the converted rink.
Coun. Craig Hodge concurred with Asmundson, noting that the new ice could be dedicated for public use, which does not require change rooms, while the other two rinks could be used for sporting events.
“What I do know is that if we don’t do it today, we are not eliminating the possibility of doing it next year,” he said.
Coun. Dennis Marsden spoke in favour of the proposal, saying that user groups have told the city that there is a need for more amenities at the facility. Adding the change rooms would optimize the use of the new rink and ensure it was properly utilized.
“We want to be able to hold our heads high and say we have great facilities,” he said.
In the end, council voted in favour of the proposal, with the mayor and councillors Asmundson, Hodge and Teri Towner voting against the plan.
Staff will now move ahead with the final design and budget for the project, which is expected to come back to council in September. The project is expected to be completed in fall 2020.