Residents joined planners from Colliers International on a Zoom call to discuss the project, which was expected to be built over the coming years. Last year Russell council approved a $1.1 million budget to design and construct two basketball courts, tennis courts and an accessible park this year as part of the first phase, while a multi-purpose building would be planned and designed as part of the next stage.
A draft master plan provided an overview of the multi-purpose building with enough space for a theatre, aquatic centre, library, and up to three rinks. However, the final make-up of the building would be decided by the council after the public had been consulted and project managers had made recommendations.
The meeting last Wednesday, which was primarily in English, included multiple questions about the features of the multi-purpose building, including the theatre, pool and library.
The library, which would be moved from a temporary home at an Embrun school, was the topic of a number of questions. Some asked whether the new facility would be an amalgamation of the predominately anglophone Russell branch and the francophone Embrun branch.
Parks and Recreation director Céline Guitard said amalgamation was not part of the discussions at present, and would be a decision for councillors based on public feedback, rather than the project managers for the complex. “Right now we were asked to put a library in the complex, but there was no mention of amalgamation,” she said.
Suggestions from the public included healthy food options in a canteen, spaces for seniors, and a gym space for basketball and other sports. Colliers senior project manager Scott O’Hearn said suggestions raised in questionnaires and other forums had been similar.
At the time of publication, a French language consultation session was due to be held on Wednesday night. A council decision on the next stage of the project was expected to be made later this year.