Construction on southwest Edmonton's long-awaited recreation centre could start next month, but only if city council approves a $16.4-million increase in the budget.

The complex, complete with a 50-metre pool, fitness centre, practice fields, and ice rinks was approved by city council in late 2006 at a cost of $90 million. Now the price has risen to a least $106.4 million, city manager Al Maurer announced Friday.

The new budget also delays construction of the ice rinks until a later time.

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City manager Al Maurer said Friday the southwest recreation centre will need a $16.4-million increase in its budget. ((CBC))

The city had been looking at building the project as a private-public partnership, known as a P3. Under the plan, a developer was to build the project, then lease it back to the city.

But the city has not been able to reach agreement with its private partners on price or amenities, Maurer said. Now it intends to build the project the usual way, managing construction and hiring contractors to do the work.

"This approach will allow us to start work almost immediately," Maurer said.

Community leaders in the Terwillegar area are frustrated with the latest development. They have been waiting for years to see this project go ahead, with the cost constantly rising, said Robert Agostinis, President of Terwillegar Riverbend Advisory Council.
 
"We originally started at $32

[million], $45 [million] then $58 million for the recreation portion. Now it's going to be $106 million for the recreational portion. So that's a lot of taxpayer dollars."
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A drawing of the new southwest recreation centre, being built at Terwillegar Drive and 23 Avenue. ((City of Edmonton))

It should be a lesson to the city that when you wait too long, prices soar, Agostinis said.

The project, to be built at Terwillegar Drive and 23 Avenue, will be the first new recreation and aquatic centre Edmonton has built since 1981.

City council will debate the budget increase at its meeting on April 16. If approved work would start in May, with completion in early 2010.