After much deliberation and some opposition, members of Council will decide on Monday whether to borrow an extra $30 million for increased costs for the City’s new aquatic and arenas centre that is projected to begin construction this summer.
Mayor Greg Dionne was among those who stated his continued support for the project. He is positive the City can secure extra funding from the Federal Government to aid in the project’s expanded costs.
“At the end of the day, we need those facilities,” he said. “It’s going to be the best thing for the City.”
Dionne said they’ve talked to the Government of Saskatchewan about obtaining additional funding for the centre. During those discussions, he learned that all projects are currently over budget due to inflation, including provincial ones.
Although Councillor Dennis Ogrodnick left before the vote was called due to health issues, he ultimately decided to change his support for the project due to the increased costs.
Ogrodnick said it “broke his heart” to turn against the project, but he promised voters that the budget would not change.
“I have to keep my word,” he said. “Unfortunately I’m going to have to vote no to the funding.”
Councillors Terra Lennox-Zepp and Tony Head voted in opposition for the extra $30 million loan, stating that the risk is just too great.
The City originally had a budget of $60 million for the new recreation project, which will consist of two arenas and an indoor aquatics centre. The new estimated cost of the project has been bumped to $113.8 million as a result of global economic strain caused by inflation from the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
Briane Vance, Finance Manager for the City of Prince Albert, presented several ways the City can secure the additional funds for the project without increasing residents' taxes during Wednesday’s Executive Committee meeting.
Out of the $53.8 million still required, $24 million is anticipated through fundraising and requests for additional funding from the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program due to inflation.
If Council votes in favour of borrowing the extra $30 million, the City will see an annual loan repayment of $2.28 million over the next 35 years. This will be partly funded through the Civic Facilities Levy, in addition to the expected tax revenue generated from the private development of the “Yard District”.
Council will also make the decision to vote in favour of awarding the project’s construction tender to Graham Construction LP at Monday’s meeting.
Bailey Sutherland, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald