School groups in St. Albert can now use more city-owned recreational facilities for free.
St. Albert city council approved an update to the reciprocal use agreement that governs the sharing of facilities between the city and three local school boards. The approved changes add the field houses and community gym space at Servus Credit Union Place, as well as the Riel multipurpose field to the agreement.
This means school groups can now use these facilities for free during regular daytime hours.
The agreement applies to St. Albert Protestant Schools, Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools and the Greater North Central Francophone region.
The agreement is welcome news to Paul Kane High School principal Larry Dick.
“We have a soccer program that uses Servus Place extensively and this will only add to our ability to serve those kids,” he said.
The school’s facilities are also well used by city groups in the evenings, he said.
The new policy could save the Greater St. Albert Catholic school division’s sports academy about $2,800 a year, said facilitator Geoff Giacobbo.
His program uses Servus Place twice a week.
“It’s great news. I’m happy to hear that,” he said.
The agreement still doesn’t include Performance Arena, the aquatic centre or the fitness centre. The change will cost the city about $17,000 in foregone revenue.
Mayor Nolan Crouse wasn’t concerned.
“Our commitment to the youth is important, so that’s a public good for youth,” he said.
Riel field will now be open to high school football and soccer programs, said Chris Jardine, St. Albert general manager of community and protective services.
Expanding the policy with benefit sports academies and regular physical education classes, said David Keohane, superintendent of Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools.
“It’s excellent news and I think St. Albert will be a leader in the province in this regard,” he said. “I’ve worked with two previous systems and I have not experienced as comprehensive an opportunity.”