Plans for an expansion of soccer fields, ball diamonds, and pickleball courts near the Bonnyville Pro Rodeo Grounds have been put on hold.
The M.D. of Bonnyville’s vision of a multi-purpose outdoor recreation park is on pause now after an in-camera discussion during Wednesday’s council meeting. They’re looking for a resolution on ID 349 for the region before they continue talks.
“We had another discussion about this park. Right now, it really came out that let’s take a step back, let’s put it on hold,” said Reeve Greg Sawchuk on The Morning After.
Council saw updated designs on Oct. 7 during their committee meeting and were looking to approach the town about land use and development.
Town CAO Bill Rogers said Bonnyville council gave support to it and would donate the land if the M.D. were to build the park.
However, Sawchuk said there wasn’t an indication of financial help the town would provide, and with ID 349 regional dollars in flux for next year, the park can be revisited later.
*While the original concept of the park was projected at over $20 million, it’s anticipated an updated design in town could cost a lot less.
“It’s not a priority for the town at this point in time and that is where it’s going to be located if we’re to go ahead. Right now, we’re not hearing a lot of cries to go ahead with it either,” said Sawchuk.
“There is some appetite for looking at individual pieces. And again, let’s find out what the priority is. Is the utilization of our existing–as far as our diamonds and fields go–does that warrant more investment?”
In 2019, the M.D. conducted a survey on the proposed park where two-thirds of respondents were in favour of construction, but more had questions about the cost.
Months before that, the M.D.’s recreation needs assessment saw 69 per cent of respondents choose a pool as the top indoor recreation priority.
Of course, with the pricetag, and an indoor pool set to cost somewhere between $17-$22 million, Sawchuk said, they might steer their eye back to indoor recreation.
“A pool is still up there as the priority for most people. We’ve put it out there to both the town and to the city [Cold Lake], with the number of people that live in the region? Can we afford to build two of these? I don’t think so,” he said.
“We have to be reasonable. And when the pool committee was set up here, that was the first thing I said to them. These pools cost a lot to maintain on a yearly basis. You’re looking at probably a million dollars a year to sustain them.
“Do the municipalities have that ability to carry that on for the next 40 or 50 years? Are we able to absorb that? At this point in time, we’ll have to see. The big question mark laying over the entire region is ID349. If some of those funds end up coming to the neighboring municipalities, maybe that makes it easier for them. We’ll see.”
Edit: Friday, October 16, 1:40pm