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Aquatic/curling facility plans too lofty?

Dear editor: Regarding the $45 million budget for the curling and aquatic facilities: As a Cochrane taxpayer and curler, I would like to offer a few comments on the above.

Dear editor:

Regarding the $45 million budget for the curling and aquatic facilities:

As a Cochrane taxpayer and curler, I would like to offer a few comments on the above.

1) Use of ice time in the present curling facility – the club has four sheets of ice. During the evening draws (Monday to Friday), one third (1/3) of the available ice time is not being used. These facts are readily available to anyone viewing the bulletin board within the curling rink. Full utilization would translate into two teams per sheet of ice, with four sheets and two draws per evening (16 teams per night or 80 teams per week).

The number of curlers participating during daytime (senior) and evening leagues in Cochrane is dropping annually. Junior curling appears to be maintaining ongoing levels of participation. The decrease of interest in curling is not unique to Cochrane. In recent years, two curling clubs in Calgary have closed.

2) Proposed use of ice time in the new facility – six regular sheets plus three smaller/pony sheets – I would suggest that any number of sheets in excess of four may be somewhat optimistic. A new facility does not automatically equate to an increased interest in curling in a new building.

3) Alternate use of space in the new facility during the summer months/off season for curling is a great idea.

4) Size of lounge in the new facility – at 3,500 sq ft, this lounge area may be one of the largest in Cochrane when one makes a comparison to some of the local night venues at 2,600 to 5,000 sq ft. Should Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre be the home to one of the largest lounges in Cochrane, complete with viewing portals to the Totem 1 arena?

5) Aquatic centre – the original size was proposed at 75,000 sq ft, whereas the current model is projected to be 60,000 sq ft – an impressive reduction. The size of the pool in Airdrie is 44,550 sq ft – slightly smaller than the proposed pool in Cochrane at 48,000 sq ft, plus the tenant space of 12,000 equaling a 60,000 sq ft facility. Airdrie’s population is around 50,000, or roughly three times that of Cochrane. At Cochrane’s planned growth rate of 4 per cent (the town’s planning rate), it would take more than 25 years for Cochrane to reach the current size of Airdrie.

In summary, as a taxpayer, I support both of these planned projects, but are the planned sizes a tad too optimistic? Are the marginal costs of building larger facilities (construction, consulting fees, and operating costs) warranted, taking into consideration the current size of Cochrane and its planned growth for the next 25 to 40 years?

Perhaps more modest sized facilities, at a lesser cost to taxpayers, might be more palatable.

Keith Boothe, Cochrane




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