Administration may soon learn if the upgrades or replacement of the Dr. Duncan Murray Recreation Centre qualifies for the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) grant.
An expression of interest (EOI) process for the recreation centre refurbishment or a standalone recreation facility will show if the capital improvements align with the ICIP outcomes.
“This is just continuing to go forward and really see if the funding is there to get this project off the ground. We’ve done a lot of research over a lot of years about making this project come to life, and we are getting to the point where it comes down to money,” said Coun. Ryan Maguhn.
If funding can be found, the project would become a tangible reality, he added.
Administration is able to apply for any grant with criteria of recreation facilities refurbishment or expansion, said Winston Rossouw, Hinton’s manager of engineering and development services. ICIP is the largest grant, he said.
Administration reached out to the Province’s Infrastructure department and is expecting that the ICIP application portal may be relaunched early fall 2021.
Additional possible stack grant funding may be obtained through the Alberta Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP), according to administration’s report.
“It has been my privilege to wade through, since the year 2007 to about 2019, the various studies that you’ve undertaken in your town, to ascertain what is your best option to either expand your recreation facility or to repurpose and upgrade your facility right now,” Rossouw said.
He deemed that no more studies were necessary and that the Town is in a good position to apply for federal and provincial grants.
The EOI process is a requirement to ensure that the project satisfies the provincial guidelines prior to federal government rubber stamping the overall grant for approval. This will hopefully be done before the fall, said Rossouw.
If the proposed project is approved by the Province, the Town will be invited to submit its formal application.
“Based on the Town’s debt capacity and the competing other capital projects, it’s probably in your best interest to go for a grant support of nothing less than 65 per cent of the total project value,” said Rossouw. That is based on a $36M to $40M total capital cost from 2018.
The report stated that the cost for a full suite of options to a more narrowed down scope to address essential current and future needs ranged between $70M and $36M.
Coun. Dewly Nelson questioned what project would be funded through this grant as the project interpretation of the recreation or aquatic centre has changed over time.
“To me, this is the cart way before the horse. It’s been a few years since we’ve really gone out to the public to talk about what we want to do with this recreation centre,” Nelson said.
Nelson believes the community likely has a different vision of the recreation centre now compared to previous conversations.
Coun. Tyler Waugh also added that there should be further clarification on what the grant application will be for.
There is nothing precluding a parallel process of consultation with the public while administration pursues grants, said Rossouw.
“The EOI does not bind us to any obligation of funding or commitment to what the building is going to look like or what the options are going to be. Basically it will tell you that you’re in the running for a grant that is upcoming. It’s an EOI, no money tied to it, no commitment,” Rossouw noted.
Without securing funding or making accommodations to find funding, there’s no point in discussing a project that won’t happen, said Maguhn.
Coun. Trevor Haas added that this process allows council to see what funding is available and if they even qualify for it.
At the same time, administration will pursue the integrated project delivery (IPD) model to undertake the rec centre project.
The IPD model is gaining popularity for its all inclusive ‘one stop shop’ approach with advantages such as transparency, lower project costs, better value, improved constructability, reduced rework, and seamless handoff, according to the report.
Rossouw explained that the IPD model is an all-in architect, engineer, contractor, stakeholder engagement from the start that pegs down what the project value is. Within that, any change orders are almost completely ruled out because the contractor is part of the initial design, he added.
Mayor Marcel Michaels praised the IPD process, and stated that the traditional design-bid-build process is archaic and allows developers to know exactly what the budget and design is.
“My understanding of the consultation with the public and what is within it, is that it is changeable within the IPD process. This is not us going forward with one design,” Michaels said.
He said this allows them to work with the community to build something together.
Rossouw noted that some outline should be given so the IPD team doesn’t come back with something too grand that the community cannot support or stand behind.
Council also discussed how to bring forward outstanding motions regarding the recreation centre. CAO Olsen noted that these motions are not lost and will be followed up.
Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice