Feasibility study examines need for new facility
Many Labrador West residents support the idea of a tax increase in order to help fund construction and operation of a proposed new multipurpose recreation complex.
© Ty Dunham
Adam Smith, Recreation Director for the Town of Labrador City, said a new recreation facility would solve a number of problems in Labrador West and improve the quality of life for residents.
According to a feasibility study recently released by dmA Planning and Management Services, a consulting firm, out of the 526 households who believed additional facilities are required in Labrador West, 86 per cent of those said they would be willing to support a new facility through taxes.
Initial estimates of the capital cost for a new complex is close to $30 million, but the construction market in remote communities like Labrador City is volatile and difficult to forecast costs.
Labrador City’s recreation director, Adam Smith, said it’s possible for estimates to balloon or bust by the time ground breaks.
“If we were to build it this year we could pinpoint the cost pretty good, but a few years down the road we don’t know what construction costs are going to be per square footage.”
However, Smith said the town council has always prided itself on keeping taxes low and expects that to continue.
“At the end of the day I don’t see taxes being through the roof to make it happen. When a new facility does come along, I can see the user cost going up.”
Sharing the cost
Residents shouldn’t worry about fronting the facility through tax dollars, Smith said. Being a regional facility, money is expected to come from out of town.
“In our perspective as a town we see some money coming from corporate sponsors, and some of it should come from provincial and federal government.”
The Iron Ore Company of Canada has already contributed to paying for the study.
The net annual operating costs are projected to be $317,500, which could be paid for by programming, fees, revenues, or even something that comes up over the next few years.
“We’re four or five years away from this. We might have a new subdivision built with all this new tax revenue, so who knows.”
The need for additional or improved indoor recreation facilities was identified in the 2011 Labrador West Master Plan. The consulting firm supported the immediate development of a number of facilities, including a fieldhouse to support indoor soccer and gymnasium-based sports; multipurpose programming space; indoor walking and running track; and a gymnastic facility subject to a council-approved policy concerning financing.
The replacement of the Carol Curling Club was also supported.
The facility won’t be just for sports, however. Smith said it could include meeting rooms and spaces for crafts, senior’s activities, arts, and even culinary events.
The firm also recommended that planning for the facility should account for the possibility that new facilities be included in the future, including an arena if population growth demands it; a full size gym if future demand warrants dedicating the fieldhouse exclusively to soccer; and fitness facilities if the private sector is unwilling or unable to meet the demand in the future.
Smith said new facilities would solve a number of problems, including stopping a program to allow a special event to happen. The upcoming Cain’s Quest will put a hold to ice time for almost a week.
“With the development of a new facility we could continue to do both and get revenue from both. It could also attract other events like concerts.”
A new facility would also attract visitors from outside Labrador West and generate revenue for the whole town, Smith said. It could also encourage more people to live in the area.
“People coming from other places are used to up-to-date facilities and that’s what we need to retain people.”
In the meantime, Smith said council has been taking steps to provide more tangible activities, programs, and facilities for the town such as the budget approval for a new skateboard park and $125,000 in playground equipment.
The consulting firm will be returning to Labrador West in the near future to begin phase two of the complex, and will be holding public meetings to ask the residents what they would like to see in a new facility.
“We want to hear from everyone,” Smith said. “If you’re interested in a theatre or a play centre for kids, let us know. If it’s feasible, we’ll try to make it happen.”