Edmonton

Rec centre, Terwillegar Drive left out of Edmonton's capital budget

The city's new four-year capital budget moves forward big projects like the LRT and invests in parks, roads and neighbourhood renewal, but a few much-anticipated items have been left out.

West-end residents have been waiting a decade for a recreation centre, councillor says

The Meadows Community Recreation Centre serves people in southeast Edmonton. (City of Edmonton)

The city's new four-year capital budget moves forward big projects like the LRT and invests in parks, roads and neighbourhood renewal, but a few much-anticipated items have been left out.

Upgrades for the Stadium station LRT, upgrades to Terwillegar Drive and the Lewis Farms Recreation Centre and Library are all currently unfunded. 

Those items are listed as "potentially financed by debt."

Coun. Andrew Knack said west-end residents have been waiting for the rec centre for about a decade.

He plans to raise a motion at the next council meeting to take on debt to get the Lewis Farms rec centre built.

"I think if as a city we're not willing to invest in recreation facilities and libraries, I don't really know what our purpose is then."

Knack is going to have some competition.

Councillor Mike Nickel doesn't agree with borrowing more money.

"We don't have a lot of money to play with," he said. "Hold the court, no new spending, no new borrowing."

"We need discipline and rigour right now 'cause you know, we've had tax increases ... we've increased our borrowing over the last 10 to 15 years to a point now where we have no wiggle room. It's gone."

Knack noted that if the Lewis Farms recreation centre isn't funded until after this budget cycle, the residents in his ward would be waiting another ten years to have such a facility. Modest tax increases may be needed to complete certain projects. 

"I can tell you I've heard from I think three people total in the west end, at least in Ward 1, who don't want to see it built," he said Thursday. "And I've heard from hundreds and I expect that by the time we get to the budget public hearing that I'll have likely heard from thousands of people who are very eager to see that and feel that that's not something we should be sacrificing, even in a tight budget."

The budget contains nearly 100 smaller projects that have been requested but not recommended by the financial and corporate services branch to fund.

Council starts to debate the $4.3-billion capital budget on Tuesday. The council meeting is open to the public.

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