Back on track?

Talks to build mutiplex renewed after IDP cites need to plan

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Talks of building a multiplex in High Prairie are back on the table.

Big Lakes County council was urged to support the facility which is encouraged in the draft inter-municipal development plan for the county and the Town of High Prairie.

At its regular meeting May 22, council discussed the issue with John Paddon, who initiated the concept in January 2018 with Aaron Klassen.

“I keep hearing from both town and county councils that they are looking for ways to attract more people to the area,” Paddon says.

“Valleyview has a multiplex, why not High Prairie?”

Paddon plans to discuss the project with town council at its regular meeting May 28.

He says now is the time to start to plan and designate special funding.

“It would be a big draw to the area,” Paddon says.

“Some of the facilities we have now require major updating.”

Paddon agrees with the IDP that suggests councils lead the way.

“I’d like to see both councils work together on the project and form a committee,” Paddon says.

“It starts with discussions face-to-face.

“How are we going to develop a way of doing it if we don’t start with discussion?”

Early planning is urged in the proposed IDP bylaw.

“The county and town shall actively pursue initiatives to support the development of a multiplex facility through various funding mechanisms such as provincial and federal grants as well as private sponsorships,” the bylaw states.

“Such a multiplex should provide a variety of recreational and social amenities for residents of the county and the town ranging from youth to seniors.”

County council will hold a public hearing June 12 before the bylaw is adopted.

Klassen and Paddon suggest a multiplex could include a variety of components, including a walking and running track, exercise and weight rooms, a gymnasium, a library and a food concession.

Paddon says the project would also take community support, users and organizations to build and operate a multiplex.

“We have to financially support it for operations,” Paddon says.

North Gilwood – Triangle Councillor Ken Matthews agrees that good planning starts early.

“The sooner you start planning and setting aside funds, the better you are when you start building the multiplex,” Matthews says.

“Some day all our recreational facilities will need to be replaced.”

He notes Indigenous communities also need to be part of any discussions.

Another councillor says a multiplex would be popular.

“I don’t think anyone wouldn’t want one,” Prairie Echo – Salt Prairie Councillor David Marx says.

A multiplex was proposed by the High Prairie and District Regional Recreation Board around 2000 at a cost of about $25 million, he says.

“We had a plebiscite and 83 per cent of voters said start with a pool,” Marx says.

Within a few years, the High Prairie Regional Aquatic Centre opened.

South Sunset House – Gilwood Councillor Ann Stewart says she opposes the project.

”It sounds wonderful, but we don’t have millions of dollars for a multiplex,” Stewart says.

“We have roads to improve and water projects and operational costs [for a multiplex] are huge.”

CAO Jordan Panasiuk estimates building a multiplex could start in 20-25 years.

County administration will present options to council at its next regular meeting June 12, he says.

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