Council moves ahead with hiring an architect for rec centre

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by Tristan Turner

In a 6-1 vote, Council has selected Administration’s recommendation for an architectural firm to design the community’s new multi-use rec facility. With only Councillor Stephen Dafoe opposed, Council approved awarding the contract to Architecture Tkalcic Bengert (ATB), one of 11 companies to submit a proposal by the Aug. 31 deadline.

The firm will now handle designing the project and engaging with the municipality and community stakeholders regarding where the community wants to see the project going, as outlined in the RFP.

Council and Administration both ranked the 11 proposals in “isolation” of one another, according to comments from Councillor Gord Putnam at the meeting.

All councillors individually picked ATB as either their number one or number two choice, with Mayor Holmes, Deputy Mayor Turner, and Councillors Dafoe, Putnam and Ladouceur choosing the firm as their first pick. Other popular firms among the 11 for Council were AODBT, Architecture 49 and FAAS.

Key items that stood out to Council in ATB’s favour was their experience working with regional projects. Councillor Nicole Boutestein said the firm’s work on the Leduc Recreation Centre, which was a partnership between the city and the county, was particularly encouraging. The downsides mentioned by both Councillor Boutestein and Councillor Brennan Fitzgerald were that ATB is a very large company with massive projects. As such, they expressed concern that a smaller project may receive less attention.

Sole opponent

Despite being tied as his number one pick, Councillor Stephen Dafoe was the only councillor to not support the motion to award the contract to ATB, saying he felt that no contract should be awarded by Council until they have sat down and discussed recreation with all of their regional partners.

Before the motion to select ATB, Dafoe brought forward a motion to differ awarding the architectural contract until after the scheduled Oct. 15 sit down with the five regional neighbours in Sturgeon County.

“I just – in my heart – feel that we need to at least have that initial sit down with our regional partners before we go further,” Dafoe said in arguing his motion. “I have advocated for that prior to summer and all summer long, and I just believe – in my gut – it is the right thing to do.”

Councillor Dafoe said he was not making this decision based on public pressure to meet with regional partners, but rather that he had held the belief in the importance of meeting with regional partners since the beginning of the discussions on the project.

Councilor Boutestein disagreed, saying she saw value to having a designer/architect chosen when the town meets with regional partners to discuss what they would like the facility to be and how to move ahead with the project.

Dafoe’s motion to differ was defeated 1-6.

Councillor Boutestein attempted to pass another motion during the RFP discussions to select a second choice for the town to approach if the town is unable to negotiate a contract with ATB. Boutestein proposed Architecture 49 as this secondary choice, but the motion was defeated 2-5 with Boutestein and Deputy Mayor Turner supporting the motion.

Council will receive a progress update on the rec centre project at their next regular meeting of Council on Oct. 13.

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