July 15th, 2024

Council to address request to upsize school gym

By Lethbridge Herald on June 15, 2024.

Herald photo by Al Beeber Galbraith Elementary School has been approved for provincial funding to modernize it. The Lethbridge School Division is asking the City of Lethbridge to pay for the upsizing of its gymnasium which would also be used for the community.

Al Beeber

The Economic and Finance Standing Policy Committee of city council on Thursday was asked to support one-time funding of $1.2 million for the modernization of Galbraith Elementary School.

The SPC unanimously voted to recommend council authorize mayor Blaine Hyggen to provide a letter of commitment for the funding and that administration bring back further  options for the source of that funding to the June 26 meeting of city council.

A report by to the SPC said the money is for the upsizing of the school gymnasium.

The SPC was specifically asked to recommend that council – whose members all sit on the SPC – provide the funding to upgrade the gym to a middle-school sized one and that City funding be advanced in 2028 and be contingent upon a commitment from the Lethbridge School Division to provide a minimum number of nights a week, averaged for the school year,  of community access.

The report states that LSD sent a letter to mayor and council last Oct. 25 “requesting an expression of interest” by the City in the gym’s upsizing during modernization of the school.

The planned $35 million modernization has been advanced by the provincial government to the design phase and as a result, the school division needs a firm commitment from the City on whether it’s willing to help fund the project before the end of October so a bigger gym can be included in schematic designs, says the report.

Funding isn’t required in advance of the project start, says the presentation, adding that the LSC is willing to work to defer payments until 2027 or 2028.

Christine Lee, Associate Superintendent of Business and Operations for the LSD, noted the City has funded expansion of other gyms including Coalbanks, Plaxton and the new West Coulee Elementary School on the westside.

In a brief presentation to the SPC, Lee called Galbraith a “delicate, historical” piece of the City and that any demolition would occur on the part of the school built in the 1950s.

She said the expansion would amount to 200 square metres.

City treasurer and chief financial officer Darrell Mathews told the SPC there are two other similar projects included in the current Capital Improvement Plan. 

A presentation to the SPC says a joint agreement between the City and school boards was created in 1959 and is not only the longest serving such agreement in the province, but was the first in Alberta.

The agreement has mutual benefit, providing access to City facilities by schools and access to schools after hours for community activities, says the presentation.

Galbraith, at 113 years old, is the city’s oldest school and modernization has been a planning request by the school division for 18 years. The presentation says an upsized gym provides an opportunity for more community recreation space in ,orth Lethbridge.

Travis Grindle, Recreation Services manager, told the SPC in response to a question about demand for use by the community that middle-sized schools, have more demand than smaller elementary school gyms that are big enough to accommodate one volleyball court, as an example, compared to two in a mid-sized gym.

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How bout we just start making all gyms large enouth for two volleyball courts and maybe lets say 200 spectators, minimum. All governments, left or right , try to cut costs in all of the most stupid places.

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