By Greg Price
Taber Recreation Board members are crunching the cost numbers — and the presentation of the delegation on the proposed multi-use dry sports facility to see if they will throw their support behind the $8-11 million-dollar initiative to town council.
Multi-use sports complex committee members Graham Abela and Bruce Warkentin were on hand to present the latest findings of the committee of a feasibility study they had commissioned from an architectural firm out of Saskatoon (AODBT).
“We are hoping for a plan of action and a way forward for us to really get some energy moving forward to see this through to fruition,” said Abela at the recreation board’s June meeting. “It’s very important to keep the rec board informed to what’s happening in relation to our agenda to what we are doing as a group. We are looking for your approval to bring this to council, so that our group can move forward.”
“Our agenda calls for us to attempt to gain energy between regional partners for this initiative, not just the Town of Taber. This will have to be a partnership if it’s going to work. We will need to rely n investment, not only at the end of the day from taxes. This will have some tax implication, I know that if it moves forward, but there will also be needed a substantial amount of money that comes in to build this, from grants, private industry and contributions in kind.”
Abela brought up a situation in 2014 in Lethbridge that built a $41.5 million-dollar building in which only $5.5 million was paid by local tax payers. Ultimate hopes are the dry sports multiplex would be a collaborative effort between the Town of Taber, M.D. of Taber, Town of Vauxhall, Village of Barnwell, provincial and federal funding and private industry funding.
“We know as a group, in order to obtain those grant moneys, we have to put together a plan in order to lobby and address politicians to achieve those goals. We need to make this an important opportunity, not only our group, but the community,” said Abela.
A dry sports facility is multi-use that take sports usually done in the summer time outside and goes under a building in which the sport can be played in the six or seven months of the cold season for southern Alberta. The building would contain an 85-by-200-foot long indoor soccer complex that would have artificial grass and under it would be a core-rubber floor in the sprung structure. Football, lacrosse, major gymnastics competitions, walking paths, volleyball, basketball and tennis were various other activities members of mentioned in the past the complex could be used for along with concerts and meetings etc. along with non-sports activities in the plethora of activities that could take place in the venue.
Once the authoritative bodies give the committee the permission to build the structure, Abela estimated a 12-16 months for construction completion.
“The longer we wait, the more it’s going to cost and I know that political will takes time. What we are shooting for, is to create this wonderful facility that is going to have economic impact, lifestyle and health and wellness impact, it’s going to make Taber possibly along with all our other sporting amenities, a recreational tourist spot,” said Abela. “And make it in such a way that it has the lowest cost point, so the cost to pay back are as little to our tax payers as we can make it. That is our goal, we do not want this to be a tax burden on our community. We are grant ready to go. And I’ve written grants and I’m not afraid to write grants. And I’m not afraid to go to politicians and ask them for money.”
If not one cent of grant money were to be obtained by the multi-use sports complex committee, estimated costs for the multiplex at an amortization of three per cent over a thirty-year term would be $102.43 per year per household for dwellings in the Town of Taber, M.D. of Taber and Town of Vauxhall given 2011 census numbers for the complete version ($11,250,000) of the facility, or $76.33 per year per household for the basic model ($8,400,000). On a per person cost, it would be $35.09 per year for the complete version, $26.15 for the basic version.
“In all reality, it cannot be a tax burden, and it will not be. Because if its, it will not happen,” noted Randy Sparks, town counciilor and recreation board member during comment period of the meeting. “My next question is, is it going to be self supporting?”
Abela replied in one of the appendixes in the feasibility study, committee members lowballed revenues and were aggressive in their figures for expenses in projections.
“We believe those are realistic figures. And it’s a dry facility so the maintenance costs are not as high” said Abela, adding goals are to have the facility be cost neutral or turn a slight profit, dispelling rumours that the long-term operation of the facility would be full-time unionized employees, but rather an association or some other group run it, similar to a model the Taber Golf Club, or gymnastics club has to keep costs down. “We have examined multiple ways of operating the facility.”
Abela further added in his presentation that the building could be constructed in such a way with the drawings that it could accommodate the need for a fine arts facility which the Town of Taber has been approached for as well.
“There could be some real synergies and cost savings there,” said Abela, a notion recreation board chairman Luke Wijna agreed with.
“The more we can combine this facility with something else, the more we can put in there, the better chance we have something here, that’s my opinion,” said Wijna.
The committee has identified three potential sites for the proposed multiplex, with the preferred one being the site directly south of the Legion Park.
“We are looking forward to this building having a 50-year life expectancy, and we know that the community is growing that way. And a large portion of our sporting infrastructure is already located there,” said Abela. “It would be our hope that the Ken McDonald Sports Field and the users of that group, could actually use this facility’s bathrooms, change rooms, lounge, for their purposes, so that we can have more shared facilities. We know we have access to up to a three-acre parcel there.”
Sparks applauded the committee’s passion for the project and the hard work in the research for the project, but given the new information the recreation board members received with the cost breakdown and other information in the feasibility study, a united voice of support could not be had at the time of the meeting until further discussion could be had by the recreation board.
Given there are no recreation board meetings in the summer in the months of July and August, the board would likely call for a special meeting to draft a motion whether they would support the dry sport multiplex facility proposal.