Ag society requests county borrow $6.8M to finish La Glace arena

·3 min read

The La Glace and District Agricultural Society is requesting County of Grande Prairie council approve a $6.8 million debenture to complete a new arena there.

Tamara Lunde, ag society director, made the request during the county council meeting last week.

Work on the La Glace Regional Recreation Centre commenced with the ground-breaking in September 2017.

“The (arena) will benefit quite a few people,” Lunde said.

“It would be a huge asset to our community and surrounding communities, considering the number of arenas currently not operational.”

Wembley’s Source Energy Arena closed following a fire in June and Clairmont Arena has been closed since December due to safety concerns.

Lunde also said the ag society is looking for backing, not funding, from the county - meaning the ag society intends to repay the $6.8 million.

The ag society can do this through its fundraising efforts, including at the annual Small Town Bringdown, she said.

Lunde said she is “absolutely” confident the ag society can raise the amount.

“We’re a very strong-knit community (with) a very well-organized and determined board,” she said.

During Monday’s meeting Coun. Corey Beck questioned if the ag society could raise the amount “even over a 50-year term,” looking at its current cash flow and operational expenses.

Lunde told council organizations are already asking for ice time at the new arena, and this will generate revenue.

The society also hopes to access grant funding, she said.

According to county administration, the debenture will fund the third phase of construction, which is necessary before the arena can become operational.

How long it will take to complete the third phase and get the arena operational will depend on when the funding is in place, Lunde said.

County reeve Leanne Beaupre said council directed administration to research consultant costs.

Having one in place would determine the work needed, independent of Environmental Builders which gave a $6.8 million quote to bring the arena to completion.

After administration reports back, council will decide whether to hire a consultant, Beaupre said.

Major expenses in Environmental Builders’ quote include the ice plant and dehumidifiers ($910,000), demolition of the existing building ($175,000), the east gravel parking area ($125,000) and bleachers ($99,030).

The $6.8 million equates to $233 per square foot, according to county administration.

For comparison, administration noted RC Strategies found building a new arena in Clairmont could cost $500 per sq. ft., for a total of $12.5 million.

“Before we enter into any agreement with the ag society, we need a lot more information on our available options and what’s available to the ag society,” Beaupre said.

Lunde told the News recently the ag society has been planning the construction of the new arena in three phases since 2018.

The first phase was budgeted at $2.7 million and concerned the exterior. The work was completed by TurConConstruction in 2018.

The second phase for interior work was budgeted at $2.2 million and wrapped up in June. The work was done by Environmental Builders.

So far, the county has contributed $3 million to the arena’s construction, starting with $1 million to erect the building shell. The county then contributed $333,333 per year over six years, Christine Rawlins, county parks and recreation manager, told the News recently.

As well, the ag society secured $500,000 in corporate contributions and grants and raised another $270,172, according to information the society provided county council.

Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News