Colliers Project Leaders showed councillors two floor plans for the 15,200 square metre building at a special meeting last Tuesday. Each plan included space for an arena with three ice surfaces, a gym hall, library, indoor pools, walking track, fitness centre, and café or canteen. Both plans also included change rooms, multi-purpose rooms, storage space, and a reception area.
The ice surfaces, two of which would be NHL size and the other international, included seating for 1900 people; 1500 people could be seated in the main arena, with another 200 each in the smaller spaces. In both designs, the library would be spread over two floors of the building, next door to administration offices.
The major design difference between the two plans was the placement of the arenas. In the first plan, the arenas would be built in a row on the northern side of the building, with the main entrance off an interior roadway near the accessible playground. The second design proposed the arenas be placed at the southern end of the building, with a main entrance off Notre-Dame Street.
The design is part of the second phase of the recreation complex project, which will be built near the existing sports dome off Notre-Dame Street in Embrun. Plans for the exterior aspects of the complex, including an accessible playground and basketball courts, were presented to council earlier this year.
Councillors had the option to endorse one of the two designs at the Tuesday night meeting. But the council opted instead to and use the meeting as a feedback session. Councillor André Brisson moved a motion that the council receive the report next hold a discussion about the project’s finances at another dedicated meeting in August.
Mayor Pierre Leroux said he would like to see pricing that reflected not only the cost of the individual components, but also different price points for levels of service within those amenities. “It might be that we want everything, but realistically, financially, it’ll be very difficult to do so,” he said. “It’s not only about the construction costs. I want to see the existing operational costs to compare with, as well as what the anticipated operational costs would be. I would rather that we spend a little bit more money upfront to make sure we do it right the first time and be informed.”
Councillor Cindy Saucier said she preferred the design that provided more exterior wall space to the library, and suggested a separate entrance for the facility that did not require entry to the rest of the complex. “You’d be allowed to have much more light in the library [with the second option], which is a comment that a lot of users specify,” she said.
Councillor Jamie Laurin asked for more information about which groups and sports the individual ice surfaces could cater to. He also asked whether the walking track would affect patronage of the track at the existing sports dome next door.
“People are paying to walk around the track, there were a lot of memberships for that, a lot of people utilized it before the pandemic,” he said. “Yet they would be able to go next door to this facility and walk at no cost... it would make sense if we didn’t have the dome, but I don’t know if it makes sense because we have it and we’re charging people to walk next door.”
In response to a question from councillor Mike Ternowski about the overall size of the complex, Colliers senior project manager Scott O’Hearn any reductions or expansions of specific components of the complex could be decided by council. He said moving the components of the complex around in the design without changing the overall size of the complex would not drastically affect the cost of the project. “As we decide the pieces of the facility that’s going to be implemented, the overall look of the complex can change,” he said. “Those comments won’t affect the overall pricing to be brought [later this year].”
Details of the plan so far, as well as an invitation for businesses to submit expressions of interest for leasing space in the complex, are available at https://www.russell.ca/en/recreation-and-culture/recreation-complex.aspx.