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Creation of multi-purpose leisure centre in the region suggested

Facility could be built in Olds or elsewhere in Mountain View County, report said; cost as yet unknown

OLDS — A consultant has suggested that a regional multi-purpose leisure centre (MPLC) be built in Olds or elsewhere in neighbouring municipalities.

Such a facility, as yet uncosted, would accommodate a variety of perceived recreational and cultural gaps, including a field house, more courts, more ice sheets, a gymnastics facility, indoor playground and indoor track as well as a climbing wall. 

It was noted there is a desire within the county for more tennis and pickleball courts. 

Other amenities might include public art in the facility and outdoor sports fields adjacent to it.  

That report was presented to town council during its Nov. 22 meeting.

When pressed by Coun. James Cummings, Justin Rousseau, managing director of the consulting company, Expedition Management Consulting Ltd., and community services director Doug Wagstaff said the report is just the first step toward such a facility, even if there’s an agreement among regional partners that it’s needed. 

In essence, this report would pave the way for another study which would delve further into the feasibility of such a facility and answer questions such as the best location and cost. 

Rousseau noted a survey was undertaken to gain insight into what residents want and how far they’d be willing to travel to access a MPLC. 

“There was a willingness among respondents to the resident survey to travel up to 30 minutes (one way) to access enhanced regional facilities (61 per cent agreed, 17 per cent disagreed),” the report states.  

“Furthermore, a large majority of respondents to the resident survey indicated that they already travel within the region (79 per cent) and outside the region (84 per cent) to access parks, recreation and culture facilities and programs at least once a year.  

“When taken together, these findings indicate that regional facility development has some level of support in the Mountain View region.” 

The report said the communities in the region are “unlikely” to be able to support an MPLC on their own, but “when the population and recreation needs of the municipal partners are considered together, the case for a MPLC becomes stronger.” 

The report said if all communities in the county collaborated to build and finance an MPLC, they could have access to such a facility much sooner than they could if they tried to build on their own. 

And “by pooling resources together, the capital and operational impacts of developing new facilities may be lessened for each municipality,” it said. 

Wagstaff noted such a facility could be owned by the municipality or group of municipalities and operated by a third party. 

He said it could be built via a public private partnership. 

Councillors asked what the Expedition report cost. 

Wagstaff said the study, which began about a year ago, cost $176,222, including $15,000 for a tourism component that was not originally in the scope of the study. 

Coun. Darren Wilson said it was his understanding that the cost of the study was covered by grants “with no cost to municipalities.” 

Mayor Judy Dahl said the report, which spanned more than 200 pages, was “a good read.”  

Council voted to accept the document as “a planning document to guide future decisions regarding parks, recreation and culture in Olds.” 

Doug Collie

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