A goodwill gesture has been extended towards the Sawmills Family Sports Centre by Rocky View County (RVC) council.
Today, Division 9 RVC councillor Crystal Kissel championed a motion to give the $255,000 the town paid for a small piece of land to the Spray Lake Sawmill Recreation Park Society (SLSRPS) for future joint projects. While she initially wanted it to be specifically used towards the expansion project, the perimeter has since been changed to allow it to be used for future projects at the centre.
It was a third option derived within 24 hours of the Jan. 9 meeting that received unanimous support from RVC council.
RVC administration had originally supported the idea of keeping the funds in the tax stabilization reserve until council had reviewed all unfunded capital projects, including current and potential recreation facilities. However, they viewed the option of earmarking the funds for future needs of the SLSRPS favourably. It did not step outside the county's current stance on funding major recreational facilities to a maximum $2.2 million and it gave the park society funding for future projects they may not otherwise be able to undertake.
"Administration made this recommendation and I thought it was brilliant because we get the chance to have the money directed to the rec fund to that facility specifically but we're not saying exactly where that money has to go because we're not really part of the day-to-day operations of that building. So it's best that they make those decisions. I just wanted the money to stay at that facility and let's just keep it growing. It's amazing and we're very lucky."
Division 9 is located north and west of Cochrane and Kissel says the facility is a valuable asset to the entire area.
"I live close by and my kids use all those services so we're very fortunate we have this amazing facility in Cochrane. I mean, that's the reality of it; it is this beautiful, amazing facility that continues to grow and meet the needs of all our residents. So this is our way of continuing to help that facility grow."
The land in question was a small parcel jointly-owned by the town and RVC. The county's interest in the property was sold to the town at market value for required infrastructure upgrades. It had no potential for development.
Kissel says the decision captures the spirit of the newly-elected RVC council.
"Moving forward into 2018, I think our residents have seen lots of positive things coming forward and this is an indication of the open-mindedness and willingness to listen to one and another."
Mayor Jeff Genung says he appreciates the gesture and sees it as a step forward in improving relationships between the town and county.
"Whether there was something to fix I actually don't care," he told CochraeNow.com recently. "If we're both eager to have a good relationship that's what I'm focused on."
Just last week he met informally with RVC Reeve Greg Boehlke.
"I think it's a good neighbour and relationship builder that would go a long way," Reeve Boehlke said during the council meeting.
In 2013, the town had requested RVC provide $6.25 million towards completion of the new aquatic centre and curling rink. RVC provided $2.2 million, the same amount it contributed to the City of Airdrie Genesis Place arena expansion and, later on, the Langdon/Indus regional facilities. In 2013, it also set aside $2.2 million for a future infrastructure project in the Springbank area.
The county has not, however, officially closed the door on considering further capital funding towards the recreation centre expansion.