West­side fire­hall in­cluded in CIP draft

Lethbridge Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Melissa Vil­leneuve mvil­leneuve@leth­bridge­herald.com

Leth­bridge will not get its first ever Cy­cle Es­ca­la­tor along­side Whoop-Up Drive. The $3.35-mil­lion pro­posed project was tossed out of the draft 2018-27 Cap­i­tal Im­prove­ment Pro­gram in a unan­i­mous de­ci­sion by Fi­nance Com­mit­tee dur­ing day four of de­lib­er­a­tions Thurs­day.

What the res­i­dents of Leth­bridge will re­ceive is a new fire hall built on the west­side, re­con­struc­tion of 3 Av­enue South (4 Street to 8 Street), and some ad­di­tional ameni­ties in Legacy Park in­clud­ing a spray park, should the draft CIP be ap­proved by coun­cil.

Nikka Yuko Ja­panese Gar­den was also in­cluded in the draft to con­struct a new $2.75-mil­lion com­mu­nity and pro­gram­ming fa­cil­ity, as was the South­ern Al­berta Art Gallery for $2.7 mil­lion in fa­cil­ity en­hance­ments, in­clud­ing the ad­di­tion of a park-ori­ented restau­rant.

The CIP iden­ti­fies re­quired cap­i­tal projects within the City of Leth­bridge and pro­vides a plan­ning sched­ule and fi­nanc­ing strat­egy. Coun­cil mem­bers are de­ter­min­ing which projects should re­ceive funding in the first four-year win­dow of the 10-year plan.

A to­tal of $284 mil­lion in un­funded com­mu­nity cap­i­tal projects have been up for dis­cus­sion over the past few days. They are all vy­ing for a por­tion of the ap­prox­i­mately $62.6 mil­lion avail­able. Fi­nance Com­mit­tee made de­ci­sions on 18 of them on Thurs­day.

The item with the largest price tag to be funded in the next four years is the new Fire Sta­tion No. 5 in south­west Leth­bridge. For $9.8 mil­lion, this would in­clude the land, de­sign and con­struc­tion of the ad­di­tional fire sta­tion and the pur­chase of nec­es­sary ve­hi­cles/equip­ment. It will be sit­u­ated in the Water­bridge sub­di­vi­sion, on the cor­ner of Ma­cleod Drive.

The City of Leth­bridge has op­er­ated with four fire sta­tions since 1980, although the pop­u­la­tion has nearly dou­bled. Dur­ing a Fi­nance Com­mit­tee meet­ing in Jan­uary, Fire/EMS Chief Richard Hilde­brand stressed the need for a new west­side sta­tion, and the re­place­ment of the 16 Ave South sta­tion, in or­der to con­tinue meet­ing their ser­vice lev­els.

Both projects were needed to help main­tain the city's 10-minute re­sponse time stan­dard and to en­sure enough re­sources can be de­ployed in the event of a big fire, he ex­plained.

Coun. Ryan Parker said he was most ex­cited about this project be­cause it is not a “want” but a “need” in the com­mu­nity. He noted the pop­u­la­tion in west Leth­bridge was around 4,000 when the first west fire hall was built in 1980. Now it’s al­most 40,000. Yet adding a fire sta­tion will serve the needs of the en­tire com­mu­nity as they share re­sources.

“It’s an is­sue of safety and it’s an is­sue of qual­ity of life,” said Parker. Most coun­cil mem­bers agreed and the res­o­lu­tion was passed 8-1 to in­clude it in the draft CIP.

The sec­ond pro­posed Fire/EMS project — $9.03 mil­lion for re­lo­ca­tion of Fire Sta­tion No. 3, 16 Av­enue South, and 911 backup — was ap­proved, but amended to be pushed back four years to 2022.

Re­con­struc­tion of 3 Av­enue South comes at a price tag of $9.03 mil­lion in 2018. It in­volves the cre­ation of a de­tailed de­sign, re­new­ing un­der­ground in­fra­struc­ture and re­plac­ing road sur­face, im­prov­ing street right-of-way in­clud­ing wider side­walks and land­scap­ing, and im­prov­ing multi-modal ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Coun­cil mem­bers voted 5-4 to in­clude it in the draft CIP.

The on­go­ing Legacy Park project was ap­proved for $6.6 mil­lion for ad­di­tional ameni­ties in the draft CIP. They in­clude a spray park, chil­dren's dis­cov­ery play­ground, group pic­nic shel­ter, or­na­men­tal gar­den and more roads/park­ing, be­gin­ning in 2019. Some coun­cil­lors did not sup­port the re­quest as they be­lieved pre­vi­ous funds pro­vided were more than ad­e­quate for ameni­ties in the park. How­ever the project passed by a vote of 5-4.

Nikka Yuko Ja­panese Gar­den’s project is to con­struct a new $2.75mil­lion multi-pur­pose fa­cil­ity to pro­vide pub­lic/pri­vate event and meet­ing space and im­proved ex­hibits out­side the Gar­den.

Many coun­cil mem­bers noted the need for ex­pan­sion and en­hance­ment as it is a ma­jor at­trac­tion that draws thou­sands of vis­i­tors each year. Mayor Chris Spear­man noted “it’s one of our jewels.” The project was in­cluded by a vote of 8-1.

With $2.7 mil­lion, the SAAG will add 350 square me­tres of space for a new Learn­ing Com­mons area, ex­panded of­fice space/com­mon room, en­vi­ron­men­tal stor­age space and load­ing dock. It will also cre­ate a park-ori­ented restau­rant with an out­door pa­tio to be leased to a third party.

Spear­man noted they had re­ceived 37 letters from the pub­lic and nine pages of sig­na­tures in sup­port. The project was in­cluded by a vote of 8-1.

“The SAAG has a tremen­dous rep­u­ta­tion across Canada as one of the pre­miere art gal­leries,” said Spear­man, not­ing it draws many vis­i­tors to the down­town core. “The more vi­brant SAAG is, the more rea­sons peo­ple come down there, visit and stay there, the bet­ter it is for all of down­town.”

There are still an­other three com­mu­nity projects to dis­cuss to­day — the Shoot­ing Sports Fa­cil­ity Safety En­hance­ment, Hen­der­son Lake Golf Club up­grades and the Per­form­ing Arts Cen­tre. How­ever, any pre­vi­ous project can be brought back for dis­cus­sion through an amend­ment.

Fi­nance Com­mit­tee de­lib­er­a­tions are sched­uled to be­gin at 9 a.m. to­day. All are wel­come to at­tend or watch the de­lib­er­a­tions live on­line at www.leth­bridge.ca.

A draft ver­sion of the 2018-27 CIP is also avail­able on­line. It is ex­pected to come be­fore coun­cil for fi­nal ap­proval on Tues­day.

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