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le Jeudi 10 décembre 2020 17:32 Autres - Others

Green light for recreation complex

Russell’s municipal council has signed off on the first round of funding to build the township’s new recreation complex. — stock photo
Russell’s municipal council has signed off on the first round of funding to build the township’s new recreation complex.
stock photo
A multimillion-dollar recreation complex for Russell Township is one step closer after the municipal council approved the first two phases for the site near the Russell Sports Dome.

On Monday night the council approved a $1.1 million budget to design and construct two basketball courts, tennis courts and an accessible park next year as part of the first phase proposed by project managers Colliers International. A snow hill would also be designed, but construction would begin later to take advantage of a forthcoming snow storage area nearby.

Another $385,000 was granted for the second phase of the complex, which would go towards consultants, public engagement and project recommendations for the remainder of the site’s construction. A draft master plan of the entire complex was presented to the council, which included a multi-purpose building with enough room for a theatre, aquatic centre, a library, and up to three rinks.

Under the implementation plan, the actual components and construction schedule of the multipurpose centre was expected to be determined by council in the second half of 2021, after public and stakeholder consultation. Colliers Eastern Ontario vice-president Michael Paul said cost estimates for each aspect of the centre would be presented to council during that meeting.

“We would be holding interviews with different user groups – any users of the library, minor hockey, swimming groups – so we can get an idea of how they would use the facility,” he said. “We would come also to the public to gain their input into the ultimate facility.”

A 2016 projection anticipated the total complex would cost $22 million, but consultants’ reports received last year anticipated the cost could be between $33.7 million and $52.2 million. The council was projected to have $23.9 million available in financing by 2023, of which $3.2 million would come from a strategic reserve made up of rate rise funds and surcharges.

Mayor Pierre Leroux said the approval was a significant milestone for the council. “Realistically, this area is going to be the community hub for the entire township,” he said. “People with multiple kids will be able to attend this area and have different things going on, so I think that’s an enormous father in our cap.”

Council also formally moved to name the new accessible park after local resident and disability advocate Jonathan Pitre. Known as the “Butterfly Child” for his work raising the profile of epidermolysis bullosa, a condition which made his skin fragile, Pitre died in 2018.

The township had considered a number of ways to honour the teenager, and decided to name the accessible park after him. “Parc Jonathan Pitre Park” will have a butterfly theme, and his photo will be featured on a sign promoting the construction of the park.