Nonprofit calls town hall meeting on recreation facility

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A group championing an inclusive sport and wellness campus in St. Albert hopes to solve many of the city’s recreational woes.

Active Communities Alberta, a nonprofit society, is making a proposed recreation facility the focus of a town hall meeting this week. The meeting will happen Thursday at 7 p.m. at the St. Albert Inn.

Matt Bachewich, president of Active Communities Alberta, says the society will deliver a presentation before hearing questions and comments from residents.

“We think it’s a great opportunity to bring information to the public about the work we’ve done and the creative solution our nonprofit group has arrived at,” Bachewich said.

In June, Bachewich brought the society’s proposal forward to St. Albert’s city council, where he asked for council support to pursue provincial and federal funding for the project.

The facility would cost an estimated $35 million to build and would include twin ice arenas; a gymnasium for sports such as pickleball, basketball and badminton; a community space for nonprofit groups; a fitness and wellness space; and out-of-school care for young families.

On June 12, Bachewich told councillors Active Communities Alberta would operate the facility on a break-even basis, without ongoing taxpayer support. That would save taxpayers $12.5 million in operating costs over 20 years, he said.

He added St. Albert’s ratio of arenas to minor hockey and ringette participants is the worst in the province, with one arena for every 421 players.

“Simply put, our city does not have enough ice facilities to meet the needs of its citizens. It is time for that to be addressed,” he said.

The society’s hope is to fund the facility’s construction by utilizing $19 million the city has already earmarked for construction of a new ice sheet, along with a combined $14 million from provincial and federal governments and $2 million from other sources such as individual or corporate donors.

The location for the proposed facility is not set in stone, but the society believes the best site is near Ray Gibbon Drive, either close to the Anthony Henday or further north.

“We want this facility to provide services to the north and west sides of the city,” Bachewich said.

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