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LaSalle skate trail one step closer to completion as council approves contract

A rendering of the LaSalle skate trail shows a portion of the trail and foot path and the garden that will feature the relocated memorial plaques.  (Town of LaSalle - image credit)
A rendering of the LaSalle skate trail shows a portion of the trail and foot path and the garden that will feature the relocated memorial plaques. (Town of LaSalle - image credit)

A new planned skate and multi-use trail in LaSalle, Ont. is one step closer to reality.

The town council voted Tuesday night to award the construction contract for its new skate trail at LaSalle Landing on the town's waterfront.

The contract, issued to Valente Contracting Inc., is worth $8.8 million, slightly less than the $9 million council budgeted for the project, according to a report prepared by the town's deputy CAO, Peter Marra.

The motion to award the contract passed unanimously among the councillors present, but Coun. Mark Carrick expressed concerns about the cost of the waterfront development, calling it "an awful lot of money."

"I just want to make sure that, as we move forward, that perhaps maybe after this we can look at a pause just to maybe rethink some options," he said.

"It's getting to the point now where it's really … expanding a lot, and it's not cheap."

More than a skate trail

Marra assured Carrick that the cost of the project is built into a business plan that council has already approved.

Some residents of LaSalle have also taken to social media to express their displeasure about the cost of the project. Others have raised concerns that climate change may soon render the skate trail obsolete.

But Coun. Jeff Renaud told CBC the trail will preserve opportunities to skate outdoors as climate change renders frozen lakes and waterways less safe.

"We're looking at putting full ice coils underneath, you know, and building ice from the top just like a hockey arena," he said.

LaSalle Coun. Jeff Renaud said the skate trail will preserve opportunities for winter skating as climate change renders frozen lakes and other bodies of water less safe.
LaSalle Coun. Jeff Renaud said the skate trail will preserve opportunities for winter skating as climate change renders frozen lakes and other bodies of water less safe.

LaSalle Coun. Jeff Renaud said the skate trail will preserve opportunities for winter skating as climate change renders frozen lakes and other bodies of water less safe. (Town of LaSalle)

"Some people think we're just going out there with a hose and waiting for it to freeze. We're not."

Renaud, who missed Tuesday's meeting but said he would've voted in favour of the contract, also noted that the $8.8 million price-tag includes more than just a skate trail.

"I've been told that there's not enough parking down at the waterfront area," he said. "The last parking lot we put down on the waterfront cost us $3 million. So part of this price is a parking lot."

What's more, he said, people can use the trail in the summer time for rollerblading or other activities.

Mayor says 'only mistake ... was we keep calling it a skate trail'

Renaud says he's been frustrated by outcry on social media given that he had only received three messages in opposition to it prior to Tuesday's meeting, and has recieved messages in favour.

Mayor Crystal Meloche told council the project is important because it will help draw visitors to the area to support local businesses and, in turn, draw more businesses to Front Road.

"I think our only mistake going forward with this was we keep calling it a skate trail," Meloche said.

Mark Carrick is running for town council in LaSalle.
Mark Carrick is running for town council in LaSalle.

Coun. Mark Carrick said he's concerned about the cost of the LaSalle Landing redevelopment. (Submitted by Mark Carrick)

"We probably should have called it the year-round multi-use trail with a water feature. This is supposed to be a year-round facility for our residents to use, whether you're from LaSalle or you're from Essex County, to come visit and support our local businesses."

The Valente bid was the lowest of six, the highest of which reached more than $11.3 million, according to Marra's report.

The amount does not include the cost of a generator to provide emergency power to the refrigeration equipment, event centre and possible future warming hut.

Valente estimated the cost of the generator at just over $1.1 million, and town staff are reviewing the LaSalle Landing budget to see if there is room for the generator.

Widening the footpath

Following the vote to proceed with the contract, Coun. Terry Burns successfully introduced a motion to look at widening a footpath included in the design from its planned six-foot width to eight feet.

The motion calls on staff to report back on the cost implications of the change, though it would not delay the project.

Crystal Meloche has been acclaimed as LaSalle's new mayor. She will be the first female mayor in the town's history.
Crystal Meloche has been acclaimed as LaSalle's new mayor. She will be the first female mayor in the town's history.

LaSalle Mayor Crystal Meloche said the development that the town has been calling a "skate trail" is really a year-round multi-use space that will help draw visitors to local businesses. (CBC News)

Finally, councillors approved a motion to relocate 17 memorial plaques, purchased to honour people including deceased  loved ones, on the site of the future skate trail to a new garden that will be created on the property. Those on the skate trail lands are placed at the feet of trees.

Staff have reached out to the next of kin of those memorialized and have so far spoken with 12 families, who are understanding, said Dawn Hadre, the town's director of strategy and engagement, and like having a garden in the area.