The Municipal District (MD) of Bonnyville Council has voted in favour of a possible partnership with the Town of Bonnyville to build a new pool at the Bonnyville and District Centennial Centre (C2).
The partnership would involve the design, construction and raising of funds for the new aquatics centre.
The Bonnyville Town Council, at their January 18, meeting of Council, passed the following motion, “Moved by Councillor Byron Johnson that Council support in principle, construction of a new aquatics center, to be located at the Bonnyville and District Centennial Centre- subject to a partnership agreement with the M.D. of Bonnyville for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the new facility, and also subject to the successful realization of grant funding from the Provincial and/or Federal Governments to assist in construction costs”.
The CAO’s office of the MD received calls from the Town of Bonnyville CAO, MD Councillors and several residents who were wondering when the M.D. of Bonnyville would be addressing this matter.
On March 9, at the MD Council meeting, CAO Al Hoggan told elected officials, “As this is an important regional initiative and the Town of Bonnyville requires to know whether the M.D. is interested in being a partner in this project, it is being brought to Council for discussion and direction as to whether to proceed and if so, how.”
CAO Hoggan said, “The M.D. of Bonnyville has previously been involved with the Regional Aquatic Center Committee and partially funded the initial feasibility study. This left the impression with the Town of Bonnyville that the M.D. was a potentially serious partner in this initiative. Citizen surveys also have indicated that a pool is a very high priority for M.D. residents.”
On January 19, at the Committee of the Whole Meeting, the proposal for a new pool was outlined to Council by RC Strategies.
The proposal presented that the M.D. would be financially involved for approximately $8 million in capital costs and 50 per cent of
operating costs. It is estimated that pool operating costs would be approximately $1 million annually.
“The Town of Bonnyville has not triggered the mechanism agreed to in the Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework (ICF) for proposed projects and did not have a new pool listed in the ICF document as a potential future project. The Town of Bonnyville also has been given approximately $6 million in additional funding through the recently agreed to I.D. 349 annexation agreement and will receive variable amounts in that vicinity over the next 24 years,” the proposal stated.
The creation of a new aquatic centre has several positives the proposal outlined.
It was the number one request of service in a citizen survey from several years ago and it is unlikely that this preference has changed since that survey, the report outlined.
A new aquatic centre would significantly enhance the region and likely aid in attracting new business and residents to the area.
“The building of a pool will not become less expensive in the future so building now would be a less expensive venture than waiting five years or more,” the proposal said. “This partnership would support the M.D.’s relationship with the Town of Bonnyville and future partnership possibilities.”
Concerns about building an aquatic centre
The report also outlined concerns for the building of an aquatic centre are also significant. Primarily, it is a large capital expenditure, likely in the vicinity of $8 million. Long term operating costs at a static $500k per year over 25 years would be another $12.5 million. The operating costs are likely to increase as the new centre ages.
Also, the approval of a new pool partnership with the Town of Bonnyville creates a strong probability to trigger an official request from the City of Cold Lake for the M.D. to partner in their ongoing and recently announced pool initiative as well, the report outlined.
“Should Council agree to both pool projects, the total costs would be problematic and the commitment to these additional operating costs would create a significant strain on M.D. operating budgets. If the M.D. denied Cold Lake’s partnership request but remained committed to the Bonnyville project, it would inevitably create a negative impact on the M.D.’s relationship with the City.
The Committee of the Whole for the MD was presented with this update on February 16 and made the following
motion, “That the Committee recommends to Council to proceed with partnering with the Town of Bonnyville on the proposed Aquatics Centre, subject to a partnership agreement with the Town of Bonnyville for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the new facility, and also subject to the successful realization of grant funding from the Provincial and/or Federal Governments to assist in construction costs.”
The potential funding for the Capital portion would be partially funded through the Aquatics Reserve which currently sits at $4.5 million.
“Other reserves could be used to accommodate the remaining balance or since the pool project is several years away from completion,” CAO Hoggan said. “Council could elect to apply funds to the Aquatics Reserve over the next several budget cycles to bring the reserve to the required amount.”
Operational funding of the pool would be funded through the annual operating budget. It is important to note that an additional $500k of operating funding would be required annually upon pool completion, CAO Hoggan added.
MD Council discussed the topic and voted in favour of discussing the possibility of partnering with the Town of Bonnyville for the new centre.