June 14th, 2024

Council approves study to save pavilions for recreation uses


By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on May 31, 2023.

Council has approved a motion to explore using the three existing pavilions at Lethbridge Exhibition as recreational space. Herald file photo

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Lethbridge city council on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve an official business motion presented by Acting Mayor Ryan Parker to utilize the three existing pavilions at Lethbridge Exhibition as recreational space.

Can those pavilions at the Lethbridge Exhibition be repurposed? Parker made clear at at the council meeting he believes they possibly can.

Parker’s motion called upon administration – subject to written approval of the Lethbridge and District Exhibition -to explore the feasibility of repurposing those pavilions for recreational opportunities and report back to council by the end of the year.

A second motion approved by council by an 8-1 vote with councillor Jeff Carlson opposed calls upon council to provide up to $50,000 for a feasibility study funded from the Recreation and Culture operating fund.

Carlson argued against spending the money on a study saying he wasn’t willing to spend money on something that “I think we can do with baby steps.”

The outside feasibility study is needed, council was told by City Manager Lloyd Brierley, because the City does not have the structural engineering expertise to determine the structural needs of the facilities.

In his motion, Parker stated that the three pavilions have previously been used for recreational activities and points out they are owned by the City.

His motion also points out that there is demand for more recreational space in the city which is expected to have a population of more than 150,000 by the year 2050.

He says a 2022 audit and analysis of indoor court/multipurpose space shows that the emerging popularity of pickleball has created an additional demand for daytime use of the limited gymnasium space here. A 2021 report on showed that gym use in primetime hours is at full capacity.

Parker told council and the media afterwards that the Exhibition supported his resolution and that concerns about parking for the Agri-Food Hub and Trade Centre were not as great as initially considered since only certain events each year would require excess parking spaces.

He said the repurposing the pavilions would increase available use for pickle ball enthusiasts but also sports such as indoor soccer and tennis.

He added the Exhibition would also no longer have to be burdened with the roughly $4.6 million demolition costs and that using these facilities for other purposes would free up money in future Capital Improvement Plans for other projects in the future.

He said even if a study showed it would cost $3 million to upgrade the facilities, that is still substantially less money than the $40 million or $50 million new buildings would cost.

The acting mayor said his proposal has been warmly greeted by organizations in the city since it was first publicized in the media.

He said he was optimistic about the small investment of a feasibility study could have on the long-term future.

In his submission, Exhibition CEO Mike Warkentin had told council if the pavilions aren’t demolished, there would be significant challenges to parking at the new Agri-Food Hub and Trade Centre which is opening this spring.

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