By Trevor Busch
Citizens will not be seeing any renovations at the Taber Community Centre Auditorium this year after town council voted to postpone the six-figure project to 2019 following a scheduling conflict.
Council approved an auditorium upgrade in 2018 with a total budget of $500,000, with the project intended to upgrade the existing lobby area. Administration has since been working with MPE Engineering on the scope and design of the project.
“Immediately after the council budget went through for 2018 we started looking at dates, and we had some difficulties, we had blocked just over seven weeks for a project not knowing at that time approximately how long it would take,” said recreation director Aline Holmen at council’s May 28 regular meeting.”Since that time, we’ve fleshed out some of the details, and we need approximately 10 weeks. We don’t have that in 2018, and we are very limited on that in 2019.”
The next available timeframe with the “least amount of impact on the public” was determined to be Jan. 7-March 14, 2019, however this time period already has functions booked including the Kinsmen Senior’s Dinner (organization has been informed and is looking for alternatives), the Fading Sons Hockey Tournament Cabaret (option is available to move the tournament weekend to March 15-17), walkabout (can be relocated to arena) and Community Keep Fit (can be relocated to the arena lobby).
“It does affect a few user groups that we have spoken to,” continued Holmen. “It seems like we can make some accommodations — not always in the best interests of those groups, but they’re willing to work with us and move.”
An accommodating contractor could make the town’s seven-week timeframe work if it incorporated work on evenings and weekends, argued Coun. Joe Strojwas.
“What I was told was the price would go up exponentially,” countered Holmen.
Strojwas maintained that if the town approached the right contractor the project might still be feasible and come in on budget under the original schedule.
“But we could try it, could we not? The timeframe that you’re looking at is of course in the middle of the hockey season in 2019, and it really sets different things back. I would look at a another avenue. You might find a contractor that may very well come in within budget.”
The Auditorium Facility Modernization and Mechanical System Upgrade ($500,000) was part of a host of projects approved by council and slated for the Taber Community Centre in 2018, including the Community Centre Exterior Upgrade ($210,500), the Auditorium Facility Lighting Upgrade ($75,000) and a new LED Sign for 50th Street ($120,000).
During capital budget deliberations in late 2017, administration had told council that comments from the public about the deteriorating condition of the auditorium’s interior had escalated throughout the year.
Following discussion, council voted 6-1 to authorize administration to postpone the Auditorium Facility Modernization and Mechanical System Upgrade to 2019, and that the funding in the 2018 capital budget be moved to the 2019 capital budget.
Coun. Joe Strojwas opposed the motion.
While council could have chosen to proceed in 2018, this would have resulted in a greater impact on users due to cancellations. Town facilities such as the auditorium are often booked up to a year in advance.