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Fieldhouse discussions stall

Adam Johnson
Northern News Services
Published Friday, August 17, 2007

YELLOWKNIFE - Despite the efforts of one city councillor, discussion about kick-starting the sports fieldhouse project gained little traction in an Aug. 8 council meeting.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Director of community services Grant White, left, explains administration's position on the proposed sports fieldhouse. - Adam Johnson/NNSL photo -

Coun. Bob Brooks initiated a talk about the future of the project after securing informal offers from several southern developers for new designs during a Canadian Federation of Municipalities meeting in Calgary.

"I don't think it's efficient for councillors to be ferreting out (offers)," said Coun. David Wind in response.

In an earlier interview, Brooks told Yellowknifer several developers claimed they could meet the city's $16 million budget for the project.

"They felt that $16 million should be more than enough," he said at the time.

Initial plans for a soccer fieldhouse, including two soccer pitches and a running track, were put on hold after the budget soared to more than $20 million.

The aim was to have the building finished for the 2008 Arctic Winter Games in Yellowknife.

At the meeting, Brooks said three developers were willing to make presentations to council.

These designs, he said, would meet the city's new energy standards.

Those present were skeptical, however.

"It wouldn't be a challenge to put up a building for $16 million," said public works director Greg Kehoe, but added he would worry about quality.

Coun. Mark Heyck, meanwhile, warned that starting from scratch might not go as well as Brooks hoped.

"We're going to have to go through this entire process again," he said.

"We may end up with another $20 million building we can't build until 2010."

He suggested waiting until the city could afford the plan it already has, since they have put nearly $500,000 into developing it.

Grant White, community services director with the city, said administration wouldn't even be able to look at proposals until "before Christmas," to Brooks' visible frustration.

Mayor Gord Van Tighem reminded those present of the projects currently underway, such as the Somba K'e Civic Plaza, which are taxing a short-staffed City Hall.

"We're having trouble filling empty positions," he said.

"We're still competing with development in Western Canada," White said.