The Kinex Arena in downtown Red Deer is likely on its last breaths.
On Monday, city council began deliberating the 2019 Capital Budget and heard from staff that the Kinex will cease to be operational within the next five years.
“We had a detailed study done of the Kinex recognizing that it was originally a pretty basic agricultural barn-type facility as part of the Westerner when it was downtown,” explains City Manager Craig Curtis.
“Back in 1980s and 1990s, we turned it into a rink, but it was a very basic rink. All the systems are very old, the pipes under the slab, if they fail, we would have to replace the whole slab and system underneath.”
Craig said it just doesn’t make sense to pour the $8 million necessary into fixing the problem when they could alternatively twin the G.H. Dawe ice surface. That would cost $36 million between now and 2022, including $2.7 million in 2019 for detailed design and business planning.
“Ice is exceedingly well used. Twinned ice surfaces are excellent for tournaments, which are major generators in terms of bringing revenue into the city,” he added.
The question of whether to twin the Dawe now will come up during budget talks on Tuesday.
On Monday, however, city council did find $1.7 million in savings, bringing the overall Capital Budget to $114 million.
Savings were realized in reducing the budgets for three projects, including roadway reconstruction, a fence at the CPR pedestrian bridge, and snow dump base resurfacing.
The item which should dominate debate on Tuesday is the long-desired multi-use aquatic centre, which would include a 50 metre pool, and is currently budgeted at just under $111 million.
Initial planning had been slated to start in 2019, but that portion of the project is proposed to be pushed back until 2023.
Roy van der Sluis, president of the Red Deer Masters Swim Club and member of the Central Alberta Aquatic Committee, took in the debate on Monday. He says our city is so far behind on swimming infrastructure, “it’s not even funny.”
“The architect group they used to create a vision for a new aquatic centre is phenomenal. It’s like the Taj Mahal, it would be fantastic, but it’s $111 million and I think at this time we don’t need to be spending that kind of money. We can easily do a facility, with a 50 metre pool for significantly less that would still meet everybody’s needs,” van der Sluis said to rdnewsNOW at City Hall.
“I believe it can be done now. It needs to be done now and they need to figure out how to do it now. They’ve known about this for a while. It’s their job and they need to figure out how to get this done. I know it’s a tough balance, but they need to figure it out.”
Van der Sluis says in the meantime, Red Deerians are missing out.
Budget debate resumes at City Hall Tuesday at 9 a.m.
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