City council has heard back from Lloydminster residents, both directly and indirectly, about the future of the Lloydminster Cultural and Science Centre.
A report compiling all the responses from the online survey was presented at the Governance and Priorities Committee meeting on June 15. A local artist and member of the LCSC Advisory Board joined the meeting to give her thoughts directly to council.
Dawn Floen gave a presentation advocating for a new cultural and arts centre to be built immediately. She says centres play a large part when the city bids for big events such as Hockey Day in Canada where there was a hockey exhibition as part of the event.
She also notes the art community has grown significantly in Lloydminster and the LCSC was a major contributing factor to that growth. Floen says a new building is needed as soon as possible as an entire generation of school children may miss the opportunity to learn about the city’s past or discover their artistic talents.
“Her input was very much appreciated,” Mayor Gerald Aalbers says. “I think that’s why we continue to have Your Voice events and once we get past the pandemic people can sit down and chat with councillors in an open forum at various points on various items.”
However, Aalbers says the challenge with trying to build a new centre now is timelines on securing funding.
“That’s not going to happen overnight and we’ll start that process as soon as we can get something formalized.”
The LCSC building is nearing the end of its useful life and it was recommended to demolish it and build a new centre. The city has been discussing what to do with the programs, exhibits and services in between the 10 years it would take for a new building.
A survey was released presenting several options for temporary solutions. Option A would have most of the centre relocated to a renovated commercial space for $1.4 million. The total operating cost over 10 years would be $11.9 million. This option would also mean the permanent displays such as the Imhoff paintings would not be accessible to visitors.
Option B would be to move the centre to the Servus Sports Centre and PSM Parks Centre but would limit the number of displays, remove travelling exhibits and discontinue the gift shop. The initial cost would be $422,000 with the 10-year total costing about $5.6 million.
Option C, which was gathered from comments within the survey, would be to build a new centre immediately. The initial cost would be $15.5 million and the total operating cost would be $21.5 million over 10 years.
The survey had 414 submissions and 1,500 people visited the LCSC engagement page. Of the 414 responses, over half (232) chose Option A as their prefered choice. 104 chose Option C and 85 chose Option B.
The survey also showed 284 people choosing exhibits and 242 choosing events as their reasons for coming to the LCSC. Local heritage, history, art and culture had the strongest responses for topics people were interested in.
It also gathered comments which mentioned many respondents believed 10 years was too long of a waiting period and the need in the community for a space for arts and history.
Aalbers also says after going through all the reports, he’s still not sure what the community wants from a new centre.
“What are we building? We can take the Cornerstone report and I’d like to make sure the community is fully understanding what they’d get for that $14 million plus $3 million for ground work. The last thing I want to see is invest that kind of money and people come away and say that’s not what’s really serving the community.”
Aalbers is hesitant with Option C as it would put more financial burdens on taxpayers in the city.
“I’m very concerned about the financial impact of asking the community for money today. I think we’re still dealing with getting our economy back up and running and getting people back to work and now we’re asking people and businesses to support something and make a financial commitment.”
The matter be in front of council again at the next meeting on June 22.