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Toboggan hill scrapped from rec grounds redevelopment this year

“Administration has really been struggling with the costing of this amenity due to the high price currently per cubic metre of fill."
Banff skater Toshiki Kakiuchi competes during Saturday’s (Aug. 2) skateboard competition at the Banff Recreation Grounds.
The skateboard park was one of the big additions to the 10-year redevelopment of the Banff recreation grounds.

BANFF – Skyrocketing costs have forced the Town of Banff to push this year’s planned construction of a toboggan hill at the recreation grounds back a few years.

The projects on the books for 2022 were recently tendered and most came back higher than the $4.2 million budget at just over $4.5 million. However, by scrapping the toboggan hill until 2025, the increase is entirely offset by a new $375,000 grant for the multi-purpose pavilion.

Town of Banff officials say historical high inflation costs, continued impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on availability of staffing, and the price of materials all likely play a part in the higher than expected pricing.

Alison Gerrits, the director of community services for the Town of Banff, said some of the additional costs are also tied to environmental performance requirements built into the scope of the multi-purpose pavilion – the first project built under the municipal sustainable building policy.

“However, some good news was also tied to the pavilion itself and is the reason that administration is before you today not requesting funds from capital reserves to offset the increased costs,” she said during a council meeting on Monday (May 9).

“The pavilion project has been recently awarded a $375,000 grant from the Smart, Sustainable, Resilient Infrastructure Association due to its design and the environmental performance features of the building.”

The Banff recreation grounds redevelopment project is currently in year seven of its 10-year implementation.

This year’s work includes the big-ticket multi-purpose pavilion, which will include washrooms, showers, kitchen and gathering area. Also slated for this year are the skating rink and outdoor gathering area as well as a series of trails, including a paved trail connecting the pavilion and skate park with the new pedestrian bridge across the Bow River between the rec grounds and Central Park.

While there is still a projected $84,000 left in the budget for 2022 due to the grant funding, Gerrits said it is not enough to complete the toboggan hill.

She said a calculation of current fill pricing per cubic metre and associated transportation costs far surpassed the initial budget for the toboggan hill.

“Administration has really been struggling with the costing of this amenity due to the high price currently per cubic metre of fill,” she said.

“After a bit of internal discussion, the internal working team felt that we should delay this amenity until such time that we can make use of fill from another construction project in town.”

Mayor Corrie DiManno said the rising costs are largely associated with the fallout of the pandemic and a “lot of this is largely out of our control.”

“We just need to stay the course,” she said. “Speaking to the sustainable building policy, this is going to be the reality of trying to achieve our performance requirements when it comes to walking the talk with being environmental leaders.”

The 10-year Banff recreation grounds redevelopment project has an overall approved budget of $12.2 million, with capital grant revenues to the tune of just over $1 million.

At the end of 2021, just over $4 million had been spent in the previous six years on projects such as the skateboard park, dog park, cabin restoration and relocation, natural playground, ball diamond removal, field irrigation, a new sports field, shelter repairs and picnic table upgrades.

The initial budget, when the redevelopment plan was approved by council in 2016, was $9.8 million.

The remaining $84,000 will be rolled over to next year and administration will present updated capital project estimates for the final three years of the project during 2023 service review.

Gerrits said at that time there will also be potentially more news about the municipality’s grant seeking efforts.

“We are actively continuing to pursue more grant dollars for this redevelopment project,” she said.

Councillor Chip Olver said much work has been done on redevelopment of the rec grounds with more to come, including a self-adventure playground, bike skills park, and basketball court resurfacing among others.

“It’s exciting to see us going into the final three years of a big 10-year capital rejuvenation of the recreation grounds,” she said.