If Lethbridge citizens want a leisure centre, building it on a westside site is the fastest and least expensive option. But it's not necessary to build the $125 million project all at once.
That's the message city council heard Monday, as city officials spelled out details of more recreation projects they're proposing be started over the next four years.
Bary Beck, the city's community services director, said a full-scale centre could include a field house, two gymnasia, a youth centre and many smaller facilities along with a leisure pool that's estimated at $50 million. The centre would rise on city-owned "Crossings" property near Chinook High School, and would link with twin ice arenas and a new curling club already approved.
Later this spring, city council will debate whether a leisure centre should take top priority, in effect delaying a number of proposals for other civic projects. Then council would have to decide how to pay for it, Beck said.
"Then reality sets in, and we'll have to see what we can afford."
While the centre's design will include a single admissions desk and shared utilities, he said it could be built in stages as funds are available.
Lethbridge residents have expressed interest in a leisure centre, Coun. Bridget Mearns reported, but some are asking why so many new facilities are being built on the westside.
"Location is very important," she said. "Is it because we have the land?"
The city has already serviced the Crossings location, Mearns was told. Finding another site would delay the project while land assembly and underground utilities installation took place.
As Lethbridge grows, officials added, similar facilities could be considered for the city's north and south sides. But that could be 10 to 15 years away.
All three areas are in line for a skateboard park, Beck told council, and they could open much sooner.
Funds permitting, he said, a "neighbourhood size" facility will be built this summer on an already-approved site next to Henderson Arena. A similar facility, about 10,000 square feet, could be included in the new northside regional park.
Later, after Crossings projects approved by council are open, Beck said there should be space there for a 20,000-square-foot "community sized" skateboard park.
Those projects are outlined in a new master plan for skateboarding, he said. Costs would be included in the next capital plan, if council approves.
Beck said a steadily increasing demand for gymnasium space - for activities as diverse as men's recreational volleyball, or Girl Guides and Brownies - can be met in part by augmenting facilities that would be provided as part of two new elementary schools. If officials in Edmonton give the go-ahead, they'd be built in Legacy Ridge and Copperwood.
He's recommending the city spend $750,000 each to enlarge them and add them to gyms available to the public, a under its joint-use agreements with the public and separate school boards.
Beck said while there's now limited access to junior high or middle school facilities - and none for high schools - recreational space in all of the boards' elementary schools is heavily booked in the evenings.
If any remain closed when there's a public demand, he added, a joint-use committee stands ready to ensure they're available.