By Trevor Busch
The Taber Community Centre will be undergoing extensive cosmetic surgery this year following a flurry of project approvals by town council totaling over $900,000.
After deliberations at the Dec. 18 regular meeting, the Auditorium Facility Modernization and Mechanical System Upgrade ($500,000) as well as the Community Centre Exterior Upgrade ($210,500) were approved unanimously by council to be included in the 2018 capital budget, with funding to be allocated from capital reserves. Other approved projects related to the facilities include the Auditorium Facility Lighting Upgrade ($75,000) and a new LED Sign for 50th Street ($120,000).
“This is the auditorium modernization, so this is modernizing the lobby, removing the ticket booths, changing the carpet on the floor, possibly the sound panels on the walls,” said recreation director Aline Holmen. “With that, we had talked about changing and putting energy-efficient lights in the auditorium, which is the second line ($75,000) from the Energy Conservation Reserve. The electrical is very old in that building, similar to what it was in the arena. It’s very difficult to even buy breakers for that system at this point in time. That piece in particular is an upgrade that’s required.”
Mayor Andrew Prokop was concerned that with the advent of a performing arts facility and convention complex possibly being built as a planned attachment to the Taber Community Centre Auditorium, other renovations in advance of that project might not be an effective use of town funds.
“We’re due to see the report on the performing arts building study, which is suggested to be part of this building, the auditorium. To me, this is all premature discussion if we haven’t decided what’s happening with that yet. I don’t know that we can pass something like this at this stage, until we know where we’re going with it. My point is that if we were going to do something with the performing arts project, this would be null and void.”
Holmen indicated the funds could be held over until any future infrastructure additions have been decided.
“The $500,000 has already been approved for the 2018 budget. So it’s there. You can certainly remove it. But it’s something to leave in, and then when you know the outcome of the PACC (Performing Arts Centre Committee) project is, then you can determine from there.”
CAO Cory Armfelt suggested the renovations under consideration would not be impacted by any future additions to the complex.
“So this is a facelift, and a mechanical upgrade to that facility. I think from a policy perspective, council has to determine whether our community centre (auditorium) is deserving of a facelift, or not. Regardless of whether we attach another building on to the front of that facility, we would still have the community centre (auditorium) look like the community centre. To me, this is not really connected to the performing arts centre — the two buildings may be connected in the future — but this is really just focused on the community centre (auditorium) itself and whether we want to keep that open and functioning as it is today or whether we want to modernize it.”
Comments from the public about the deteriorating condition of the auditorium’s interior escalated throughout 2017.
“We believe it would make it another year, but you’re rolling the dice on anything like that,” said Holmen. “One of the things is we’re losing revenue every day, people are going to other places such as Readymade, the Heritage Inn, those types of places. There’s been new renovations out at the Legion Youth Centre, so that’s also making a difference. This project has been delayed for many years. The other side of that is it’s quite embarrassing, especially with the carpet and the ticket booth and things. And the public has been really — especially this year — commenting on the way things are starting to look in there, and as a town, do we not care about that. Being on the front lines we’re the ones that are answering to the public.”
Stucco work and a fresh coat of paint should help the aging Taber Community Centre complex — of which the auditorium is a part along with the curling rink, large and small ice, and the Taber Aquafun Centre — shine a little brighter in 2018.
“Members of council previously had requested what the cost would be to finish the exterior of the whole community centre, not just pieces and portions of it. This would be to fix up some of the stucco as well as give it an overall paint job all the way around, and that would include the Aquafun Centre as well.”
Coun. Garth Bekkering was not in favour of approaching improvements to the facility on a piecemeal basis.
“I think since we’re considering the auditorium facility upgrade, since we’re talking about the LED sign, let’s not stop two thirds of the way down and forget about the exterior of the community centre.”
Additional Capital Projects: Recreation
1) Auditorium Facility Lighting Upgrade (2018)
Status: Council voted unanimously to approve the project for the 2018 capital budget with funding to be allocated from the Energy Conservation Reserve.
2) LED Sign 50th Street (2018)
Status: Council voted 6-1 to approve the project for the 2018 capital budget with funding to be allocated from capital reserves. Coun. Joe Strojwas opposed the motion.
3) Walking Trail – Trail Head Signage (2018)
Status: Not approved/deferred
4) Trout Pond Phase 2 (2018)
Status: Council voted unanimously to advance the project from the 2019 capital budget to 2018, with funding to be allocated from capital reserves.
5) Trout Pond Phase 3 (2019)
Status: Council voted unanimously to advance the project from the 2020 capital budget to 2019, with funding to be allocated from capital reserves.
6) UTV Replacement 5-11 (2019)
Status: Council voted 6-1 to advance the project from the 2020 capital budget to 2019, with funding to be allocated from capital reserves. Coun. Joe Strojwas opposed the motion.