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This is a multi-phased project, and a pool (along with arenas and other amenities) will be considered for future phases in the coming years. This was stated in April 2020 when Council received the Gibbs Gage Feasibility Study, and reiterated in November 2020 when a site was selected (News Flash • Chestermere, AB • CivicEngage). The designs that have been presented today show PHASE 1. A follow up package including subsequent phases will be provided as a next step. The City and the design team are aware of the interest in a pool in future phases and have considered this in their master plan to ensure there would be compatibility if a pool is added down the road.
There are a few main reasons that a pool is not being pursued right now.
First, pools are very expensive to build. They are specialized facilities which require dehumidification systems, extensive tile work, filtration and chlorination systems, holding tanks, pumps and adjacent “wet” locker rooms. The high cost of constructing a leisure or lap pool would likely have delayed this entire project by several years.
Pools are also very expensive to operate. The cost recovery for leisure pools and lap pools are typically in the neighbourhood of 50 – 60% resulting in annual operating losses that are required to be paid through taxes. Although previous engagement studies demonstrated a high interest in building a pool, residents also had concerns about increased property taxes. In a previous process, a Community Task Group deliberated on this matter and recommended that the construction of a pool be delayed to a future phase once the population grew to a point where a pool would be more affordable.
Next, there are an abundance of indoor aquatic facilities in the region and a relatively lower number of field house facilities (see page 10 of 2016 Feasibility Study for more details: 2016-03-18-Feasibility-Study-FINALREPORT (chestermere.ca)). Within a 30 km radius, there were 25 indoor aquatic facilities listed in the report. Since then, additional facilities were added such as the Seton, Rocky Ridge and Quarry Park facilities which have significant aquatic leisure pools and regulation-size competitive pools. In comparison, there are only 8 fieldhouses, and these facilities are over-subscribed. By helping to fill a gap in regional recreation needs and providing a space for more than 20 different types of sporting activities, along with the new community meeting space and wellness facility, Phase 1 of this project will also help ensure that our fieldhouse will be sustainable for the future.
A few folks have asked why communities smaller than Chestermere have a pool. While the specific reasons may vary for each community, many towns serve a larger, regional rural base and therefore have a higher population than it may seem at first glance. Secondly, many smaller community pools are only outdoor pools, which have a very limited seasonal usage. An outdoor pool is not as necessary in Chestermere due to the public access to Chestermere Lake.
In Chestermere, we are committed to adding amenities that are feasible and sustainable for the long term, without unduly burdening our tax payers. We are doing extensive due diligence to ensure that what we build is affordable, serves as many residents as possible and addresses the largest gaps.
Over the past few years, the City has conducted a variety of surveys and engagement activities to ask residents what they would like to see in a future civic centre.
Previous significant public consultation opportunities included:
The results of these consultations have been carefully considered in the planning process. More public consultation will be incorporated as the project progresses as well.
The current indoor designs include a full size FIFA and multi-sport field, a walking track, changerooms, a wellness centre, team rooms and community space. The new facility will provide year-round space for close to 20 indoor field sports such as soccer, rugby, cricket, ultimate frisbee, field hockey, football, softball, lawn bowling and lacrosse, as well as community rooms and a wellness centre for fitness activities and exercise therapy.
The outdoor designs also show plans for outdoor gathering space, multi-season amenities (like basketball courts that can be flooded to create an outdoor rink), outdoor sports fields, bicycle parking and transit accommodations.
It is anticipated that construction could begin in 2021 and the first phase could be open as early as 2023.
It will be located just off of Merganser Drive in the new community of Dawson’s Landing, and will be situated across the street from two future schools.
The current Rec Centre will continue to operate, but the long-term future is unknown, and will be determined by the owners.
In 2019, the City, Rocky View County and Rec Centre worked with a consultant to ascertain its long-term viability and it was determined that the building may reach the end of its viable life within the next 10-15 years, at which time a plan will be needed to address the aging infrastructure.
The City of Chestermere offered to purchase the property as Council believes that owning the land will help the City facilitate effective long-range planning for recreation amenities. The offer was declined by Rocky View County Council.
While the Chestermere Recreation Centre remains an important part of the community’s recreation fabric, more facilities will also be needed to serve new residents as the community grows.