With the popular Stettler Recreation Centre now 20 years old, municipal officials are committed to major upgrades — estimated at more than $1.5 million — to meet the growing needs of users.
Originally built as an arena, the facility is valued at about $23 million, but requires several improvements, said Lee Penner, the town’s director of parks and leisure services.
Last week, Penner presented the expansion plans to council and administrators from the town and the County of Stettler. The briefing included a tour of the site.
“It will be necessary to update parts of the building to make sure it will last for many years to come, and there are also some things that should be addressed to make the building more functional, cost-effective and user friendly,” Penner said.
Major expansion of Stettler Public Library on the upper floor, estimated at $220,000, and repaving the parking lots for $250,000 could be the first stage, as both municipalities plan to apply for funding from the new federal Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIP).
That parking would include 35 spaces on the west side, which would accommodate the new seniors’ centre planned upstairs in the conference room, and requested by seniors during community planning sessions this spring.
Costs for that component haven’t been calculated, though town and county officials say they hope to complete that stage as soon as possible.
“We want to put together a plan for these upgrades, so when any grants are available, we can be ready to apply,” Penner said.
“We need to reinvest funding to keep this centre an important part of the community.”
Both councils believe the partnership will help secure funding.
“It would speak tons to have a joint town-county application,” said Stettler Mayor Dick Richards.
“This grant is something we would seriously consider,” said Reeve Wayne Nixon.
“Grants are more favourable when they have municipal partnerships.”
Both the town and the county plan to submit a joint application before the Aug. 2 deadline.
Penner further presented other upgrades and improvements, which include the ice plant estimated at $367,500, parking behind the arena for $200,000, new energy-efficient lighting for $180,000, new barn rubber flooring for dressing rooms for $125,000, new puck boards for $75,000, low-emissivity ceilings for $75,000, new automatic sliding doors at the main entrance, and upgrading the computer system for $50,000.
The overall cost is expected to rise further as actual costs have yet to be determined to build a staircase between the two floors, drywall replacement, repairs to the roof above the vestibule, new rooftop heating units, new opening arena boards to make it more efficient to reconfigure the main arena for various functions, and improve drainage on the north side of the building.
“Most arenas are now going with sliding doors,” said Penner, who noted the standard doors are painted every year after they’re damaged and scarred by hockey bags and equipment, only to be damaged and painted every year.
A stairwell in the lobby of the complex would further help to connect people to the two floors, Penner said, and also indicate that the facility is not just one floor, as many newcomers don’t realize.