During its June 20 meeting, Crowsnest Pass council approved two expenditures that will help improve outdoor recreation for residents.
Temporary outdoor rink
Earlier this year the parks and recreation advisory committee began exploring options for a viable location for an outdoor skating rink. The idea was to pick a suitable area and run a test season to see if a permanent rink would be successful.
Several locations were considered, such as Frank Playground, Gazebo Park, Flumerfelt Park, Pete’s Park and Hillcrest Memorial. Ultimately, space just south of the Coleman Complex was selected.
The Coleman Complex was chosen partly because all necessary equipment and staff are on-site. When open, the building also provides a heated place for skaters to warm up.
Council approved the committee’s request to fund expenses of the rink, set at $1,750. Expenses include installing the ice ($911), wages for workers maintaining the rink ($647.70) and clearing the rink for an estimated five heavy snow events ($189.80).
With all the information provided by the committee, Coun. Dean Ward said moving forward with the trial rink is a logical thing for the municipality to do.
“I’m not convinced yet 100 per cent that an outdoor skating rink makes sense, but I think this is a good way to give it a try,” he said. “It’s cheap, it’s reasonable, it’s in a good location — if it works out, let’s do something for permanent next year. This is a good way to trial it.”
Building the outdoor rink outside the complex, added Coun. Lisa Sygutek, is a good step toward determining a permanent location.
“I like the idea of trying it out here as it’s only a $1,700 ticket,” said Sygutek. “And if it’s super, super well used, the group really felt the best bang for the buck would be to do it at Pete’s Park and that we could look into that and budget implications in the future.”
Bellevue Memorial Park
At the request of the Bellecrest Association, council voted in favour of covering $5,500 in unexpected costs spent re-grading and landscaping the picnic area west of the concession in Bellevue Memorial Park.
Due to a water main break a few years ago, the picnic area had been rendered unusable. About 1,000 square yards was levelled with concrete blocks, a border of limestone boulders and compacted gravel to revitalize the space.
The association had $5,000 of funding at its disposal and initial permission from the parks department to go ahead, but unforeseen issues bumped up the overall project cost. These included the need for deeper trenches for electric and sprinkler lines, extra concrete blocks, and cutting back broken concrete to allow for better grading.
Despite the larger-than-expected cost, Coun. Doreen Glavin said the work was something that needed to be completed.
“I actually commend Bellcrest Association for actually improving it and fixing it, because as far as I’m concerned it was a big safety issue,” she said. “I understand maybe they shouldn’t have went ahead and did it, but they did have permission not to grade the slope towards the adjacent lot because that’s how it was to start with.”
“There’s an awful lot more usable space there now,” added Coun. Glen Girhiny. “It surprised me how much room there was there, actually, in the end, compared to what it was before. It should’ve been fixed a long time ago.”
Not talking to the municipality about the situation before the work was completed, however, was something that concerned council and administration.
“My only concern here is process. I’m concerned that groups will go out, do work, without talking to the municipality first, and then they show up here,” said Coun. Ward. “To me they should’ve come to administration before they did the work. You don’t get to just do stuff and then show up and say here’s the bill.”
“It would be better to come at the front end and we can make a conscious decision if that’s a project we’re going to go ahead with, instead of coming at the tail end,” added CAO Patrick Thomas.
Although OK with covering the cost, Coun. Sygutek said the municipality’s expectations needed to be made clear with the Bellecrest Association.
“Those issues are going to come at us with any group. The difference is this group is a very functional group and they did a really great job,” she said, “but I think that they need, not a reprimand, but it made very clear that they need to come to us in these situations.”
As a result, council directed administration to provide the needed funds and also send a letter to the association explaining the municipality’s expectations.
The next Crowsnest council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 15, 7 p.m. in council chambers.