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Leisure Centre revitalization talks revived at City Hall

The Leisure Centre in Avondale has caught the eye of city Councillor Dylan Bressey who says one of his goals for this council term is to see it re-open. While he understands that there are major budget implications he thinks there are a variety of options for the space, it doesn’t necessarily have to mean renovating or re-opening the pool.

Bressey says the building is located in a neighbourhood which has seen a lot of young families move in, it’s close to two schools and he thinks the north side communities are lacking in recreation options. Bressey says while he would love to see a pool in the space he is open to other ideas as well.

“What are communal activities that people can undertake that aren’t your traditional athletic things? Maybe we’ve got a space for a bouldering wall or an indoor skate spot or a small musical performance space or rooms for tutoring companies to rent out. What are things that our whole community can do that they need communal space for.”

Bressey says he lives in the area near The Leisure Centre and he noticed an immediate increase in youth around the area after the city shut the facility down. While he said many of them were just “hanging out” there was also an increase in illegal activity. Bressey says the youth in the community are worth the investment and it will help them grow into healthy adults.

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“It’s also really important for our economy. If this is a great place for our kids to grow up then they will stay here, they will invest here and they will raise their families here. So, it’s important for them and it’s important for our economy to invest in them.”

The City of Grande Prairie facility was built in 1972 but closed in 2011 when council planned to spend $11 million renovating the pool. Inspections during the early phases of the project found there was more moisture damage than originally expected. That meant the initial $800,000 that was planned for remediation work ballooned to an estimated $4 million. In the end council decided to commit that funding to the outdoor Bear Creek Pool which is expected to open this summer.

The attached soccer pitch has remained open and currently the Alberta Summer Games office is located in the building. Administration has been directed to provide the Community Living Committee with the most recent report related to the facility and other information at a future committee meeting for further discussion.

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