edm-rec

A drawing of the new southwest recreation centre, being built at Terwillegar Drive and 23 Avenue. ((City of Edmonton))

Construction will begin next month on southwest Edmonton's long-awaited recreation centre after city councillors unanimously approved a $16.4-million increase to the budget on Wednesday.

The complex — 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. But last Friday city manager Al Maurer announced the price tag had risen to $106.4 million.

The new budget also put the ice arenas on hold until a later date.

City council approved the increase to make sure the project is not delayed further, said city spokesman Robert Moyles.

A construction manager has already been selected, he said.

"That's why we are able to get shovels in the ground so soon."

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 agree 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.

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.

The complex is expected to open in the spring of 2010.