At an estimated $173 million, it would be one of the city’s most ambitious projects. That’s the cost of a proposed leisure centre on the city’s westside. City council got a first look at the concept design and needs assessment on May 7. An information session was held for the public on May 8.
The facility, adjacent to the city’s new high schools and library, would be built in phases. A new curling club and twin ice arenas, worth about $38 million, are expected to open in 2015.
The presentation to council’s community issues committee outlined the larger concept. Group 2 Architecture, Expedition Management Consulting and a local firm, Ferrari Westwood Babits are partners in the design.
Need for a leisure facility, along with a performing arts centre and a list of infrastructure projects, is expected to be debated by council later this year when it begins work on the city’s next capital projects plan.
As presented at the meeting, the leisure centre would include a $37.6 million aquatic centre, a $15 million fieldhouse and track, a $5.3 million fitness centre and a $6 million locker-room complex. It would also include about $3 million for revenue-producing commercial space.
Construction costs (estimated in 2012 dollars) would be about $140 million, plus $12 million for site work and $33 million in “soft fees.”
Lethbridge man to receive Alberta Order of Excellence
Robert Hironaka was absolutely shocked when he got a phone call from the lieutenant-governor.
“You’ve got the wrong guy,” Hironaka remembers saying.
“I was just an ordinary Joe on the street.”
But Hironaka is no ordinary Joe and the phone call was to notify him that he’s going to be awarded the Alberta Order of Excellence in October.
“I’m very humble about it because I don’t know why they have recognized all of these things that I have done,” he said.
The Alberta Order of Excellence is the highest award the province has to offer. It recognizes exemplary records of service on the local, provincial, national and international stage. This year, eight people were selected, adding to the total of 124.
“I’ve received keys to the city of Lethbridge and to the University of Lethbridge and now I’ve got this,” said Hironaka. “Wow. Those two each blew me away and now I’ve got this big thing.
“It brings tears to my eyes. That’s what the people think of me. It’s really, really humbling.”
Hironaka, 84, was born on Jan. 18, 1928 in Raymond. He attended the University of Alberta where he received a master’s degree. He then went to the University of Illinois, where he got a PhD in nutrition in 1959.
Then Hironaka came back to Alberta and worked at the Lethbridge Research Centre as a scientist for 32 years. But it was in 1964 when Hironaka started what he called “his proudest accomplishment.”
He was on the committee that formed the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden in Lethbridge. Three years later, he was nominated vice-president and then eventually president. He still remains on the board today.
Another accomplishment he’s proud of is his appointment as Chancellor of the University of Lethbridge. He was appointed in 1995 for a four-year term. He went on to complete his four years. But there was a time when he had to collect himself and take a small step back.
Eight months after he was appointed, his wife Susie (or Shizuki), passed away at the age of 68.
McHappy Day delivers smiles
The Global Voice of McDonald’s runner-up performed on May 2 at her workplace to help raise money for a good cause.
McDonald’s locations across Canada celebrated McHappy Day last Wednesday, raising money for both Ronald McDonald House and the Family Centre of Southwestern Alberta.
The Family Centre is a resource centre that can assist parents with family issues, such as counselling and family development. It partners with McDonald’s each year for McHappy Day in Lethbridge.
Stephanie Savage, an employee at the Fairway Plaza McDonald’s who placed second out of 16 global finalists in the Voice of McDonald’s contest in Orlando, performed “Hero” by Mariah Carey to a packed restaurant.
After her performance, Savage spoke about the importance of McHappy Day and its benefits.
“It’s a sense of community, and it’s great to see how many people come out to support the causes here,” she said.
“The children in the community really benefit from it.”
Savage won a $17,500 prize for being runner-up and a trip to Nashville, which she recently returned from. Overall, Savage was proud of her experience and praised the other finalists in the competition.
“It’s an experience that I’ll never forget,” she said. “The three girls in the final with me were all super-talented. It was amazing to be a part of it.”
During her time in Nashville, she got to record a song in the same studio that Elvis Presley recorded in, RCA Studio B.
Savage intends to continue her singing career. She was happy to be able to network with people in the industry from both Florida and Nashville during her time there.
On McHappy Day, $1 from every Big Mac, Happy Meal and coffee were donated to charity. Eighty per cent of the donation will go to the local charity in the area while the remaining 20 per cent will go to Ronald McDonald House in Calgary.
The goal was to raise $20,000 and about $20,375 was brought in that day.
City OKs second road into The Crossings
City council has good news for teachers and students at the city's new high schools.
Council has approved construction of a second route — Mauretania Boulevard — from Whoop-Up Drive to their schools. Whoop-Up will also be paved this year between the entrance to the Copperwood neighbourhood and the new Mauretania intersection.
Those projects had been scheduled for 2014, real estate and land development manager Michael Kelly told council this week. But site selection for the city's new curling rink and twin-ice arena means additional access will be needed sooner.
The new sports facilities, he pointed out, will be immediately southwest of Chinook High School, directly across the traffic circle that will connect Mauretania with Britannia Boulevard.
Kelly said the projects should help ease traffic congestion that's grown since the schools and branch library opened. Construction should be complete before classes resume in September, he added.
Tenders for the work have been called, he said, and work should begin in June. Total cost could be close to $5 million, with $2.2 million of that advanced from the city's residential subdivision surplus. Kelly said that will be repaid from the development offsite levies fund in 2014.
Whoop-Up Drive will also be improved beyond Mauretania, he said. The road will be widened and gravelled from there to the western city limit.
Currently a two-lane route as it passes Copperwood and the schools, Whoop-Up is designed to become a multi-lane divided roadway eventually.
College hikes tuition
Students at Lethbridge College will pay about $3 more in tuition fees for each three-credit course when they head back to class this fall.
The increase is in line with Alberta's policy that ties tuition fee increases to the consumer price index. This year the CPI figure was 1.45 per cent.
The tuition fee increase was part of the $83 million budget approved by the board of governors this past week.
The majority of revenue, $47 million, comes from the province with the bulk of the remainder coming from tuition and related fees of approximately $18 million, ancillary service fees (bookstore and residences) at about $10 million and contracted programs will bring in between $3-4 million.
Funding from the province will increase by two per cent in each of the next three years, as outlined in the provincial budget released in February.
"We're forecasting a surplus of $294,000," said Simon Griffiths, the college's chief financial officer. "We are tightening up on our financial controls to make sure that we can see any deviations from our plan early."
Salaries across all staffing areas will increase by 2.5 per cent. Salary and benefit costs are the college's largest expense item and those increases will outweigh increased revenues from tuition fees and government grants.
Although the budget is tight, no budget-related staff layoffs will occur, Griffiths said.
Hurricanes aquire goalie
The Lethbridge Hurricanes aquired all-star goaltender Ty Rimer from the Tri-City Americans on May 3, sending a second-round bantam pick next year and a third-rounder the following year.
Rimmer, who will be an overage player next year and is eligible for both the NHL draft and a roster spot in the minors, was the Western Hockey League’s best goaltender last season, putting up a .922 save percentage and posting a 31-12-1-1 record with five shutouts. He was just as good during the Americans run to the Western Conference final, posting a .919 save percentage and an 8-2-5 record in the playoffs.
“He’s a quality kid, a good leader in the dressing room and we had heard there was interest in him from some other teams and decided to act now,” said Hurricanes assistant general manager Brad Robson.