Update: As at Feb. 22, Lloydminster city officials have indicated that as grant funding has not yet been announced for the project, the matter will not be brought forward on Feb. 27 for a decision.
Lloydminster city council has gotten a full update on the proposed arena and events centre with a cost of some $102 million and discussion on Lloydminster Place will come back to council on Feb. 27.
At Monday’s Governance and Priorities Committee session, Mayor Gerald Aalbers noted that they are awaiting a determination on grant funds from both the federal as well as provincial governments with the Alberta budget expected to come down on Feb. 28, and the matter being slated for council on the day before.
From a budget of $2.16 million, the city has spent $1,812,057 as of Dec. 31, 2022. Those costs include architecture as well as geotechnical and materials testing. Another $100,000 has been approved to be spent this year on geotechnicals and materials. The budget has $247,943 left.
Given the economic picture, the range of options before council include whether to continue, stop the build or look at a scaled back version. Aalbers is asking the question about the reason people came to Lloydminster and he ties that into amenities like recreation, stores, raising a family, jobs and the quality of life.
“What would it take to draw a world class business to Lloydminster? And there are multiple pieces to that. We need available land, we need a workforce, but that workforce that may come with a major industry as an example, will want to look at the community and say,”Why would I want to move there?” Oh they’ve got top notch quality recreation facilities – cultural facilities.”
Aalbers says he hears these suggestions regularly from professionals in the area as the backdrop to attracting more talent in various disciplines. But also for people who work in other areas, he says the question on his mind is, “why would you move to Lloydminster and what we need to have as a community to draw those people and grow the city?” He feels that without growing, the city will go backwards.
Council documents detailed the scale of the project and councillors discussed the state of the ageing Centennial Civic Centre and the need to provide a replacement. As well they did not want to burden the taxpayers with repayment of loans over three decades at an interest rate of nearly five per cent.
The opportunity cost of whether to build now or delay, given that prices continue to inflate is a matter that is keeping the seven members of council awake at night, says Aalbers.
“I believe that if we are not building for the future, we are going to miss some things. Someone at one time or another took a risk of building Lloydminster where it is today and watched the city grow and it continues to grow. And we are optimistic that it is going to grow. And with that growth we need opportunities for people to do various things and recreation has become one of those things.”
Aalbers adds Lloydminster is the designated stop between Saskatoon and Edmonton and the city views itself as a regional centre. He concludes that Lloydminster Place, as proposed, is a place to gather.
Several options are still on the table ranging from building the events centre as proposed or scaling it back to either an events centre only, twin-arenas, or build the community arena as a shell and use the Archie Miller arena with upgrades.
Aalbers recognizes the challenges of the build even as he stays optimistic and looks to the future.