This illustration is a draft idea of what a field house addition to the current Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex would look like. Council is looking to have a plan ready in the event the federal government will have grants ready for wellness and recreation.

This illustration is a draft idea of what a field house addition to the current Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex would look like. Council is looking to have a plan ready in the event the federal government will have grants ready for wellness and recreation.

Plans move forward for Ponoka’s recreation centre field house

Preliminary designs for a new field house is moving forward but costs are a reality residents will need to consider.

Preliminary designs for expanding the town’s recreation buildings are moving forward but costs are a reality residents will need to consider.

Draft designs were presented to council Feb. 28 during its regular meeting with Wes Amendt, director of community services, pointing out that companies DIALOG Architecture worked with RC Strategies & PERC and Al-Terra Engineering to get this new set of plans to council.

Council had originally started the process with McElhanney Consulting, which eventually moved to this new group. Using the town’s Master Culture and Recreation Plan as the basis for the draft plan, as well as several community groups and resident surveys, the goal is to get this new plan ready for council approval sometime in March.

The hope, said Coun. Carla Prediger is this plan will be ready for the potential of federal government grants.

In an interview Mayor Rick Bonnett said that on the federal side health and wellness was said to be a priority.

“The big thing with this is we have one opportunity in the 2017-18 budget year,” said Bonnett.

He added that the focus will be on shovel ready programs and without a solid plan, including budgeting and operational costs, then there will be no chance of any grant at all.

Plan changes

Originally the town’s recreation plan was to implement five stages to the process, which had the construction of a leisure pool as the first stage. That has since changed.

The proposal is now in two phases, starting with the construction of a field house estimated to cost $16.64 million. This figure includes plans for both phases with the field house construction, necessary upgrades to the arena and aquaplex and improvements to the ice arena amenities.

Phase 1 Field House

The proposal is for the field house to include a multi-purpose space with a rubberized floor and to have a second level with a walking/jogging track.

Also included in the plan is an indoor child playground facility and a revitalized lobby to connect to the existing arena.

Phase 2 Improvements

Upgrades to the existing arena, which includes upgrades to the existing arena with better seating and separation between the small ice and large ice as well as relocation of the Zamboni arena.

As of 2014 the town’s recreation, parks and culture operations budget sat at $2.25 million ($332 per capita), about 13 per cent of municipal expenses.

DIALOG’s analysis shows there needs to be a realistic alignment of events and tournament hosting objectives. While bringing in tournaments can help a community financially there has to be some consideration to, “determine if cost/benefit related to infrastructure elements can be justified.”

Ponoka’s challenge also appears to be in that many small, rural communities built their recreation facilities when construction costs were lower. Those costs have changed in recent years and smaller communities are strugging to meed demands.

“Many municipalities have struggled with sustaining existing facilities and service levels while trying to meet increased demands and preferences for convenience amenities and new facility types,” states DIALOG.

Without some government assistance, it may be difficult to make this project happen.

****Correction**** A correction was made to this story to show that the plans have changed to propose the construction of a field house as opposed to a leisure pool. Costs associated relate to a new field house and improvements to the arena and swimming pool. The headline was changed to reflect that. We apologize for the error.