Banff moves forward with goals for Fenlands Recreation Center

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“We had a pretty good understanding of Banff residents as to how they would like some of these underutilized spaces to be used in the future.”

BANFF – The Town of Banff plans to outline the costs and scope associated with a potential multi-million dollar renovation of the Fenlands Recreation Center.

Currently $538,000 is earmarked in the budget for pre-design work in 2024 and just over $1 million for design in 2025. There is no money earmarked for construction, but the board directed the administration to seek outside funding opportunities.

Town of Banff officials say the renovations meet community preferences for a fitness center, rock climbing wall, flexible spaces for arts, culture, fitness and meetings, and a indoor turf outside the ice season following a consultation process in 2021.

“Through this 2021 public consultation process, we’ve had a lot of engagement, including over 600 responses to our survey,” said Amanda Arbuckle, Recreation Services Manager for the Town of Banff.

“We had a pretty good understanding of Banff residents as to how they would like some of these underutilized spaces to be used in the future.”

When The Fenlands was built, some halls were built specifically for the Banff Hockey Academy, which paid the town of Banff for the private use of this space. However, the private hockey academy left in 2020 and that space became empty.

At present the Fenlands Leisure Center houses two ice rinks, a curling rink, a small fitness room and rental facilities, and also hosts a variety of public walk-in sessions and classes and programs community. This summer, a seasonal indoor turf was installed at the Fenlands.

For potential renovations, preliminary budget estimates prepared by construction cost consultants Costplan Management Ltd. of Calgary in November 2021 range from about $9.3 million at the low end to $12.2 million dollars at the top of the ladder.

Arbuckle said cost estimates for potential future renovations will be further defined in 2024, as the administration consults with users, Town of Banff facilities, engineering and planning officials and local authorities. industry experts such as architects to review project objectives.

“The next steps for us would be in 2023, we would look at other funding opportunities to support the project,” she said.

“It would also include a greater scope of the project, so working with residents, different user groups and other industry experts to further define as we move into pre-design. We’ll know more about what the community is looking to build at that time.

Arbuckle said it’s important to recognize that cost estimates and budgets are not the same, noting that the estimates are professionally prepared and based on projects of similar scope and complexity and information available at that time, such as material and labor costs.

“Typically, cost estimates only cover essential costs and have a limited lifespan due to impacts such as changing market conditions, environmental requirements, technologies, etc.”, a- she declared.

“Estimating the cost of an investment project is an iterative process where risks and uncertainties are reduced and hopefully the estimates become more reliable,” she added.

“This does not mean that an increase in costs is expected, but rather that the project scope and contingency will be refined to align with council and public expectations related to the project goals and budget.”

The outstanding debt on the Fenlands from the previous large-scale renovation is $908,715, which will be paid off in 2031.

Com. Hugh Pettigrew expressed concern about the costs, wondering if the Town of Banff could partner with other organizations or businesses to help fund renovations and operations.

“I’m looking at ways, if we’re looking at partnerships, where maybe a third party could design and operate some of these functions,” he said.

The administration said 81 percent of residents surveyed during the consultation process said the space freed up by the private hockey school should be used for the community.

“The challenge you have with a commercial entity running the space is that it’s very difficult for them to get to the reasons why people want it run by a community group or a municipality – and that’s is affordability, accessibility,” Arbuckle said.

Beyond that, Arbuckle said most municipalities that have companies running a municipal recreation facility end up with a big bill for maintaining and improving capital infrastructure at the end of the year. OK.

“Overwhelmingly, the biggest challenges ever are that the private entity sees it as a business model wanting to make as much money as possible,” she said.

The administration confirmed that the Town of Banff would work with engineers or architects with expertise in sports and recreation in response to a request from council. Barb Pelham.

“If they don’t have a specific sport background, sometimes I worry they’ll design something that looks super funky but doesn’t really work for that sport,” Pelham said.

“For some reason, the climbing wall really speaks to me in that regard. I’m glad you’re consulting climbing groups and I hope the designer we’re working with has some sports knowledge.

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