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City of St. Albert gets $10 million for infrastructure projects

Money to go towards seven projects this year, including a community park in Kingswood
2608 kingsmeade 2 CC 3536
The city received $2.5 million from the federal government to design and build a community park in Kingswood. Shown is the proposed Kingsmeade Park lands facing east from Kingswood Blvd. CHRIS COLBOURNE/St. Albert Gazette

The City of St. Albert is getting $10 million from the federal government's Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) for seven projects, including a community park for Kingswood and upgrades to the city's only outdoor track field. 

Projects were announced earlier this month as part of more than $73 million the federal government is investing in 61 infrastructure projects in Alberta through the COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream. St. Albert's portion – $10,035,900 – made up 13 per cent of the government's allocation to the province. In return, the city will be contributing $3.8 million toward these projects.

"We were feeling blessed by this whole thing ... Any time you can invest $3.8 million and get $10 million back – who's not happy about that?" said Wes Brodhead, city councillor and current deputy mayor. "In this particular case, we've got virtually everything we asked for."

This isn't necessarily new money – these funds were originally allocated under a transit funding stream. But under this resiliency stream, projects must be completed by 2021, which allows the city to access the full value of the grant within one year. 

St. Albert got $2.5 million for the design and construction of Kingsmeade Park in Kingswood, which residents had a chance to weigh in on potential designs for last fall. The final concept design features a playground area, walking trails, boarded rink, multi-use sport court, ice surface and a small sledding hill. The $3.9-million project will start construction in the spring. 

"We've been struggling to find a way to build this park in Kingswood since I got elected back in 2010, so it's been a long time coming," Brodhead said. "I'm pretty pleased to be able to see this come to fruition."

Much-needed remediation work at Fowler Athletic Park will be completed this year thanks to a $2.3-million grant. Totalling $2.9 million, the project would address drainage issues, a failing retaining wall and outdated amenities on the site. Those repairs need to happen by 2023, according to the project charter

Another $1.6-million grant will be used for trails and open spaces in St. Albert's new neighbourhoods. Work is set to begin this year, and tentatively includes construction projects in Riverside, Ville Giroux and Erin Ridge North.

"One of the big things that's so cool about St. Albert, and what our community loves so much, is our interconnected trails and open spaces. It's very important to our citizens (and) is one of the reasons why they come here."

Other projects include $2.3 million to repair sections of the roof over Servus Place, $778,200 for space and equipment to accommodate the city's emergency operations centre at Fire Hall #1, $342,000 to rehabilitate two tennis courts and six pickleball courts at Larose Park, and $250,300 to repair the Larry Olexiuk Outdoor artificial turf field and the Langley outdoor natural turf fields. 

Council voted to transfer dollars away from transit for infrastructure projects back in September, though administration noted those funds will need to be made up in the future. Dollars freed up for other municipal projects "should be subsequently tagged back to the transit lifecycle reserve and/or otherwise protected for this purpose," the agenda backgrounder reads. 

Brodhead said he felt assured by administration that the transfer of funds wouldn't pose a threat to maintaining the city's transit systems.

"We went into it with our eyes open that the dollars would have to be replaced," he said. "Administration had a plan in order to deal with the replacement of this capital program, and certainly gave me some real comfort around how that would happen, and how transit would be supported in the future."

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