The architects have come and gone and, after much debate and discussion, will be putting forward two options for council’s consideration for the future of the Don Stewart Recreation Centre.
“Lots of people see it as just a rink,” said director of recreation Ian Frankton at the consultations held early last week in the lobby of the centre. “But it’s so much more and right now a portion of it is unusable.”
About 40 members of the public took advantage of the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns to the architects, as well as 14 user groups who were approached individually and invited out to speak to the consultants. Frankton said groups that had not previously been heard in discussions about the rec centre, including youth and seniors groups along with the curling club, were brought into the fold.
“So far it’s been really good,” he said. “We’ve identified some trends and have heard a lot of concerns and we’re going to try to balance them all for the best recreation centre we can possibly have.”
While the visitors from Bruce Carscadden Architects came in with three options – an on-site renovation, a new build on-site, and a new build elsewhere – a fourth was added to the gallery of poster-board presentations taped to the lobby wall. Some residents had suggested what was termed a “hybrid option” but would essentially see the ice surfaces for hockey, skating, and curling moved to another facility in another part of town, leaving more room for “multi-use” space in the downtown location.
“It could be used for a walking track, fitness areas, and an indoor soccer pitch,” said project manager Celeste McKay. “We’ve been getting some really excellent feedback and there’s been a great turnout. We’ll be taking the feedback and bringing back two conceptual designs for the building committee.”
This last group was created a few weeks ago and will include councillors, some municipal administration, as well as members-at-large. The building committee will oversee the rec centre reno (or possibly build) process and will report to council regularly.
Coun. Jason Coakwell, who co-chairs the committee with Coun. Keith Dohey, said previously that the two things that came out of the last round of consultations in 2010 was that people wanted the rec centre to stay downtown and that they refused to lose an ice season. When the option of building from scratch on the same site shuffled to the top of the priority pile at the meeting last Tuesday, one of the concerns was the feasibility of undertaking such a project and possibly losing a season of hockey.
Moving forward, the building committee will decide on a preferred option and will proceed to get an estimate on how much it will cost. The last estimate was $20 million for a renovation, but that number dates from the last time Hay Riverites went through this process in 2010-2011 and is not expected to be the same.
“In any case, we’ll be presenting some options hopefully in the next few months,” said McKay. “Then there will be a plebiscite in the fall to decide where we go from there.”