BANFF – The ball is rolling on the next phase of the 10-year redevelopment plan for the Banff recreation grounds with almost $4 million worth of projects moving ahead this year.
Major projects for 2022 include construction of a multi-purpose pavilion, skating rink, toboggan hill and trail connections including the horse trail. Design work also begins this year for planned 2023 amenities, including the south playground and bike skills loop.
“Year seven is going to be a big year,” said Alison Gerrits, the Town of Banff’s director of community services during Banff’s governance and finance committee meeting on Monday (Jan. 10) for service review.
“This 2022 bundle of projects is going to be a tipping point in terms of the look and feel of the rec grounds. The pavilion building and the skating rink are very exciting projects that are going to really transform the sense of use of that space.”
The vision for the Banff recreation grounds was developed in 2015 as a 10-year plan.
The original 10-year budget approved by council was $9.7 million. However, the budget was increased to $11.4 million in 2017 to account for higher than expected inflation rates. The next year, however, the budget was cut by about $1.2 million because of cost savings and now sits at just over $10 million.
The total allocated budget for 2022 is $4.3 million, which includes $2.7 million previously approved for 2022 and about $1.6 million in carry-forward funds from 2021. Of that, $523,000 will be held as a contingency for future year projects.
“Sixty-six per cent of the just over $10 million in funds are planned to be spent by the end of 2022 and so that leaves the remainder for years eight, nine and 10,” said Gerrits.
“Right now, we’re feeling pretty comfortable with being able to fulfil this 10-year vision within that just over $10 million budget.”
The aim of the 2015-25 recreation grounds redevelopment plan, which went through a community consultation process, is to provide residents with a mix of new and improved amenities while also providing for increased use of day-use facilities by visitors.
Major projects already completed include the skate park, off-leash dog park, upgraded sports field, removal of the running track, ball diamond irrigation, picnic area upgrades and relocation of the historic Rundle cabin for the municipality’s youth nature programs.
The multi-purpose pavilion to be built this year, which will include washrooms and gathering spaces, comes with a price tag of $1.6 million for construction and $600,000 for servicing.
“This anchor facility will really turn the rec grounds into a year-round amenity – it’s an exciting time of the project for sure,” said Gerrits.
“The pavilion will be the support facility for the skating rink and the amenities in the wintertime and then all of the summer activities with the sports teams and special events throughout the year.”
Gerrits said the Town of Banff has also proven to be adept at being able to acquire external grants that help offset Banff taxpayer costs and hopes the same can happen with the pavilion.
“We have selected a design and a firm that has experience with environmental design that fulfils our municipal sustainability policy,” she said.
“The design that we’ve selected lends itself to a greater likelihood of potential funding for some grants that are available for unique and innovative design from an energy perspective.”
The Town of Banff made a decision last week on one primary contractor for the pavilion and has awarded the contract to Canmore-based HSS Design-Build Ltd.
Councillor Barb Pelham wanted to know how bids were selected.
“I am curious what kind of consideration is given to local contractors versus outsider contractors that might be bigger operators,” she said.
The Town of Banff, as a public organization, is bound by a number of trade agreements depending on the size and scope of a project and, as such, is not allowed to give preference to local contractors over out-of-town companies.
However, administrative officials say that within the purchasing protocols, the Town of Banff tends to use a scoring-type method that provides relative weighting for areas such as price, experience and adherence to environmental objectives, among others.
“Depending on who bids, we may award more points to a local contractor who may have more experience dealing with a specific issue, but we don’t award more points for a trade just because they are local,” said Adrian Field, the Town of Banff’s director of engineering. “It’s a fairly complex process and we don’t automatically award to the local contractor just because of local or vice versa.”
Councillor Hugh Pettigrew would like to see a more thorough discussion down the road on Banff’s tendering process.
He said council should have some oversight on larger capital projects, such as having input on the top three bidders as one suggestion, adding there are other municipalities where elected officials have input.
“I certainly don’t want to be bogged down having to award every nickel-and-dime contract in this town,” said Coun. Pettigrew.
“I am not saying administration is not doing a good job, but I think council should have a say in the final awards.”