Could the resort village of Elbow use some new infrastructure by way of a new recreation space or multi-purpose facility?
The majority answer seemed to be a resounding ‘Yes’ at a well-attended public meeting held in the Civic Centre on Thursday night, February 6.
Elbow’s village council hosted the meeting in order to discuss plans that the community has to apply for major grant funding through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP). The ICIP came together after the federal and provincial governments signed a bilateral agreement in October 2018. The program will provide more than $896 million in federal funding for all types of Saskatchewan infrastructure projects over a period of 10 years until the year 2028.
“This is a project we’re all very excited about, and it seems pretty obvious that everyone else is too,” said Elbow mayor Colleen Hoppenreys, addressing the large turnout of residents from not only Elbow, but nearby communities along Line 19.
Funding from the ICIP is divided into four streams, each with their own allocations and eligible projects. Elbow’s idea for a new multi-use facility falls under ‘Community, Culture and Recreation’, and following the application submission, there are several other hurdles for any potential project, such as reviewal and assessment from both the provincial and federal governments before projects are conditionally approved and announced.
Monies from the ICIP grant would cover up to 73.33% of a project’s estimated cost.
Elbow’s council estimated that a new multi-purpose facility would cost approximately $2 million, and came up with that estimate based on similar buildings in the communities of Kenaston and Davidson, but by no means is that a confirmed number because it’s unknown exactly how big the facility would be or what amenities it would have.
The forecasted construction date of the potential facility would be in 2024 and finish the following year. The village has $350,000 in monies put into reserve for a new building.
Whatever the facility will be and whatever the final cost, it was quite evident from the meeting that people in the community and surrounding area have a vested interest in the potential project. The consensus in the room was that Elbow very much needs to invest in “new”, whatever the choice ultimately is when it comes to a new building.
“Our ‘newest’ building is from 1964,” said Colleen. “It seems time that we explore something new.”
Elbow’s Long-Term Planning Committee, formed a couple of years ago, identified almost immediately that the community was in need of a new multi-use building that would serve the village and beyond in order to meet future needs. Elbow itself continues to grow, as well as the region surrounding Lake Diefenbaker, and therefore there is increasing demand for a facility that can be used year-round.
Elbow’s current rink, built in 1948, is no longer used for skating and has no heating, and therefore is used mainly in the summertime. The community library, built in 1961, has had extensive upgrades and renovations, but available room is diminishing. The Civic Centre, built in 1964, has a capacity of around 125 people, and therefore isn’t well-suited for larger events and functions.
The village has consulted with engineers, architects and building inspectors on the possibility of simply repurposing the rink and building on to the existing Civic Centre, but it was eventually determined that it made no economic sense to reinvest in the existing and aging infrastructure.
With that knowledge on the mind of residents at the public meeting last week, organizers asked those gathered for their input and to come up with ideas on what they’d like to see in a multi-use facility, as well as ideas for fundraisers. The possibilities for a new building ran the gamut, including everything from a gym, a library and a wellness clinic to a playground, splash pool and meeting space. There was a lot of excitement over the possibilities, but the village council knows there is a lot of work still ahead of them if Elbow is to receive any grant monies.
“We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us – we’re basically going to be hitting the ground running,” said Elbow councillor Joanne Brochu.
Indeed, Elbow’s elected officials will need to gather and review the community’s input and suggestions at a brisk pace before compiling their official grant application to the ICIP. Detailed project applications for the Community, Culture and Recreation Infrastructure stream have a deadline of March 31.
That being said, the excitement in the room was palpable over what a new facility could mean for the popular lakeside community, with a general feeling that “Elbow needs this.”