Council tasked with final approval of CIP recommendations as week-long deliberations conclude

WATCH: After five days of Capital Improvement Program deliberations, members of Lethbridge city council have made their final recommendations. As Danica Ferris reports, those recommendations now require final approval at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

After ups and downs through five days of Capital Improvement Program (CIP) deliberations, members of city council — sitting this week as the Economic Standing Policy Committee (SPC) — have forwarded their final recommendations onto Tuesday’s city council meeting for approval.

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Following countless amendments throughout the week, the Economic SPC voted 7-1 in favour of recommending the Capital Improvement Plan on Friday afternoon; Councillor Blaine Hyggen was the lone vote against, and Councillor Joe Mauro chose not to participate after his motion to postpone the entire week was defeated on Wednesday morning.

Mayor Chris Spearman says he doesn’t expect Tuesday’s CIP approval to come easy for city council.

“I anticipate that it will be a political process and people will propose amendments,” Spearman said. “I’m not expecting that the budget will be approved unanimously.”

The mayor says he thought the process went relatively smoothly this week, with the Economic SPC trying to strike a balance.

“Between trying to do things that we deemed essential, and also investing in projects that would generate some employment and improvement in the city,” he said. “But also being cautious not to spend all the money that was available to us this late in the term, to hand money over to the new council when they are elected in October.”

At the beginning of the week, treasurer Hailey Pinksen said the city has about $74 million in forecasted funding available for CIP projects through 2025. By Friday afternoon, about $21.14 million of that funding remained unallocated.

Some of the projects recommended for funding through the first half of this CIP cycle (2022-2025):

  • Curbside organics: $10.6 million in funding recommended in 2022;
  • Electric buses and charging infrastructure: almost $400,000 in 2022, and $8.1 million in 2023;
  • Henderson Ice Centre upgrades: $5.8 million across 2022-2024;
  • Fire Station #3 relocation: $4.8 million in 2022/2023 for purchase of land and completion of functional study;
  • Urban core public realm enhancement program: $2 million across 2022-2025;
  • Downtown 5th Street Preliminary Design: $1 million across 2022-2023;
  • Two new outdoor sports courts: $900,000;
  • New school gymnasium upsize: $850,000 in 2024;
  • New school site development; $850,000 in 2022;
  • Legacy Park pickleball court upgrades: $650,000 maximum contribution from the city;
  • Fritz Sick Pool renovation: $530,000 in 2022
  • Indigenous placemaking strategy: $375,000 across 2022-2025;
  • Indigenous Cultural Centre site planning: $250,000 in 2022.

Some projects remain on the table as future options but are outside the funding cycle of 2022-2025, including:

  • New performing arts centre: city council has asked that the maximum city contribution be $75 million;
  • Replacement arena for the Civic Ice Centre: proposed cost of $38.6 million;
  • Royal View Memorial Cemetery (Phase 2): proposed cost of $3.3 million;
  • Transit terminal at the Enmax Centre: proposed cost of $2.1 million;
  • Transit terminal at Exhibition Park: proposed cost of $1.8 million.

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Spearman says he was impressed with the efforts shown this week by city staff, who needed to be extremely prepared on multiple levels.

“We asked our administration to deliver a lot of information in a short period of time, and I think that was challenging for them, but I think we had all the information we needed to make good decisions,” he said.

Final approval of the Capital Improvement Plan is on the city council agenda on Tuesday; the meeting begins at 12:30 p.m.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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