Lethbridge’s outstanding recreational facility

By Cheryl Long

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When the Crossings Leisure Complex in Lethbridge is opened to the public in 2019, it will very well change the way the city’s residents spend many of their recreational hours.

The $151-million, two-phase project, which was introduced back in 2007 in a formal  report to city council, broke ground in October 2013 and is well on its way to becoming a landmark facility in this southern Alberta city. Highly anticipated by the community, the Crossings Leisure Complex will become a place for all ages to socialize, participate in organized and drop-in sports, celebrate special events and enjoy a lifestyle of health and wellness.

“There was a real demand by the community for a leisure complex like this,” said Project Coordinator Ashley Matthews. “(The community) is very excited. There has been little concern expressed in terms of the construction cost to build this multi-purpose recreational facility.”

Phase 1 is expected to be completed by the end of this year and will offer the community two NHL-sized ice surfaces and a 10-sheet curling facility. Totalling more than 125,000 square feet, the twin ice arena will provide seating for up to 900 spectators, designated dressing rooms, food and beverage services, a meeting room and offices for two local minor sports clubs. The curling rink — the new home to the Lethbridge Curling Club — will also feature change rooms, spectator seating, a lounge and a pro shop. A soft opening for the twin arena is scheduled for January to March 2016, and then the rinks will open to the public in April in time for summer ice activities. The curling rink is slated to open in September 2016.

High demand for rink space in Lethbridge

The new ice rinks and curling facility are highly-anticipated by the community, Matthews said. Though there are six other ice surfaces within the city, the demand for rink space means many residents are still going outside of Lethbridge for their on-ice activities. The current curling rink is 65 years old, he added, and due to lifecycle issues needs to be replaced.

Karrie Nightingale is the Project Manager on Phase 1 and said a combination of funding from all three levels of government has helped to bring the $41-million facility to fruition. Many of the grants were bound by strict deadlines and that has helped to keep construction on track. “We have to be complete by the end of March 2016 and that is what drove a lot of the design and construction deadlines along the way,” she explained.

“We really appreciate the provincial and federal governments stepping up to assist us,” Matthews said. “Without their financial assistance, this project wouldn’t be happening. Thank you to both senior levels of government for seeing the long-term benefits and for helping our municipality with this capital project.”

General contractor Ward Bros. Construction and lead architect Group2, working in conjunction with Ferrari Westwood Babits Architects, helped to keep the Phase 1 design and construction moving along on time and on budget, Matthews said.

Phase 2 to break ground next spring

Phase 2 of Crossings Leisure Complex is the larger portion of the project, offering a multitude of fitness options and recreational opportunities to the Lethbridge community. Currently in the design stage, construction is expected to start in the spring of 2016 with a targeted end date of December 2018. Matthews said the magnitude of the project required that a dedicated construction manager, Stuart Olson Construction Ltd., be hired to be directly involved in the various stages and elements going into the $110-million complex. Toronto-based Diamond Schmitt Architects is working in association with BR2 Architecture from Edmonton to complete the detailed design work.

The plans for Phase 2 are impressive. The expansive facility will feature an aquatics centre with zero-entry leisure pool, waterslides, surf simulator, lazy river, lap pool and whirlpool and that’s just the start. Additional features will include a multi-sport field house, fitness centre, indoor track, multiple gymnasiums, child-minding area, indoor playground, locker rooms, multi-purpose rooms and commercial lease spaces. When completed, both phases will be joined as one complex on a 20-acre parcel of land located in the city’s west side.

One of the priorities in the planning of both phases was to make the entire complex as accessible as possible, said Phase 2 Project Manager Patrick Spanos. In fact, they’ve endeavoured to go above and beyond code requirements for accessibility, which will be reflected in the dressing rooms, pool areas and on the rinks themselves where teams will be able to play sledge hockey.

Advances in technology can be seen throughout the facility’s design. In the aquatics centre, one of the considerations is a pool filtration system that will regenerate water in a way that is more efficient, produces cleaner water and cuts down on the amount of water used, Matthews said.

Waste heat to be reused throughout facility

Waste heat from the ice plant in the arena area will be captured and reused in different areas of the facility, including in-floor heating in the spectator areas and change rooms, and in the ice melt pit. Additional waste heat may also be used in the Phase 2 section to preheat domestic water and heat flooring. The design also takes the environment into account with features such as low-flow plumbing fixtures, LED light fixtures, xeriscaping incorporated into some of the landscaping elements, and other sustainable features that make fiscal sense.

In addition to enhancing the community’s quality of life through fitness and recreation, the project is expected to create about 250 new full- and part-time jobs. It will also provide a place for user groups to meet, particularly those that struggle to find suitable space within the city.

“From a financial standpoint, it’s going to create more jobs and, of course, sell more products so the economic impact to the community is going to be great,” Matthews said. “The bottom line is it’s all about the community users who come to use the facility both as a direct participant or meet friends and just socialize.”

“Generally it’s all about community wellness. It’s not a sports facility, it’s a multi-purpose recreational facility that will benefit our community for many years into the future.”