Community input into programming and amenities a proposed new recreation centre for the Municipality of Barrington would offer was gathered at a public engagement session.
The gathering took place on March 7 at the existing centre on Sherose Island.
Facilitated by Barrington CAO Chris Frotten, along with other municipal staff, about 30 members of the public attended the meeting, while another 20 or were engaged online through live feed.
Programs and amenities people would like to see in a new recreation centre were identified and prioritized through group discussions.
“We’re trying to get an idea of what is the most important to you and that will help us guide the actual design work,” said Frotten, adding they will “try to incorporate as many ideas as we can.”
While an indoor swimming pool topped the wish list for many in attendance, it’s not something being considered for this project, said Frotten. Suggestions for a skateboard park and synthetic ice and turf surfaces were also put on the backburner.
An indoor walking track, a dedicated space for pre-school art, a family room, a multipurpose room with a proper sound system and acoustics, a gym, office and storage space, a kitchen and babysitting space were among the suggestions put forth at the meeting.
Input from the engagement session will be summarized in a report, which will help guide the municipality, along with the architect and engineers, to determine what can be incorporated in the design options, said Frotten, who emphasized the entire project “is very dependent on provincial and federal funding programs.”
Anticipating a new federal funding program coming out this fall that would support community infrastructure projects such as recreation centres, “we hope to get a (funding application) package ready to submit by then,” said Frotten.
The projected timeline for the project has SNM Architect finalizing the design options by June to present to municipal council and the public, with a final design approved by July. Provided funding application(s) for the project are approved, the municipality expects to call tenders in January 2020 and to break ground by April 2020.
The existing recreation centre was built in 1968 and was inherited by the Municipality of Barrington, so to speak, when it purchased the surplus federal property on Sherose Island that once served as the location for housing military staff and their families who were posted at CFS Barrington in Baccaro. The long-range radar station was downgraded and de-staffed in the 1990s. The building has numerous issues, including accessibility.
Frotten said, for now, it is proposed the new centre will be located on the same property as the existing one, across the street from the Sandy Wickens Memorial Arena. “That doesn’t mean the end of the story, it just allows us to move forward with the project design,” he said.
Frotten said the municipality has looked at the possibility of adding to the arena but “based on information received by the engineers, anything related to the arena was going to be very costly so it would really put a financial restraint right from the get-go attaching a recreation centre to the arena in any way, shape or form and the reason for that is because the arena is grandfathered in and building codes would have to be brought up to today’s standards if we do anything to the building.”
The municipality initiated the process to replace the recreation centre last year.