Canmore town council has indicated it intends to move forward with replacing a skating rink in the Larch and Lion’s Park neighbourhoods even though its own financial policy states as of right now the capital project is cancelled.
Council approved $500,000 in 2017 to replace the skating rink adjacent to where the daycare was formerly located, a piece of municipal reserve that has come to be called Larch Park by residents who value the green space it provides.
The replacement of the rink came as part of a commitment of council to invest in the park space after it voted to subdivide the area and dedicate more than half the wooded area to a future affordable housing development.
But as a result of delays with Canmore Community Housing Corporation’s process to develop the site with Distinctive Homes, no funds related to the skating rink were spent during the fiscal year.
Chief administrative officer Lisa de Soto explained the budget policy of cancelling all projects not started in a fiscal year was to reassess all projects based on current priorities.
“I think the intent was that if a project does not actually start, there is a question as to how it should be evaluated against new projects coming forward,” de Soto said. “Is it automatically given preference or priority … or should it be evaluated on its merits against the new asks?”
Councillor Joanna McCallum expressed concern that members of the public who review budget agendas for council would be left with the impression this project is not happening.
McCallum said the municipality is maintaining the current rink through this winter season, which means using a nearby hydrant and hose to flood it and make ice.
During the recent municipal election, residents of the neighbourhood spoke out and said they were concerned council would not go forward, especially given the budget policy of cancelling it if it has not started.
McCallum said at the time she was committed to seeing the project through to completion and making good on the commitment of council to improve the amenity.
She provided direction at budget committee that it is included in the 2018 capital project with changes brought forward for approval.
Council is expected to consider final approval of changes for 2018 operational and capital budgets at a regular meeting in December.