Chestermere City Councillors selected Dawson’s Landing as the preferred site for the construction of a future civic centre complex at the Regular Meeting of Council on Nov. 3.
City administration was directed to complete the necessary due diligence on the business, construction, communication, and financial plan of the project.
“Planning and research are underway, and we’re focused on gathering information from user groups in Calgary and Chestermere to understand the demand for the size of a field house, and multipurpose space,” said Community Operations Director, Kathy Russell.
Through community engagement, city administration, and Gibbs Gage Architects partner David Wittman indicated that a field house is a missing component in the community and is a significant need.
“We determined that the City of Chestermere is highly active, and a highly youthful community with a lot of participation in sports that would be conducive to an indoor field house,” Wittman said.
An indoor fieldhouse, library, and city hall are projected to be built in the first phase of the civic centre complex project.
“Another future phase is the consideration of a triple arena to replace the Chestermere Regional Community Association (CRCA), as our initial study was on the current CRCA, it’s capacity, it’s lifespan, and whether it deserved more investment in. That report said it had about a 10-year lifespan left, and future arenas would be needed in that time,” Wittman said.
Adding, “The final phase is aquatics, this is for consideration in many years from now.”
City administration and Gibbs Gage Architects identified two potential sites for the civic centre complex, Dawson’s Landing and the Gateway Site.
“Through several workshops, we developed benefits of the site, Dawson’s Landing had a lot of strengths, the biggest negative aspect was visibility and access off of Chestermere Blvd,” Wittman said.
“The site had a lot of strengths, it supported commercial development already happening in Chestermere, and the road networks and components are already going in,” he said.
The Gateway Site at the corner of Chestermere Blvd and Range Road 284 was also identified as a potential site, as it met the civic centre needs.
“It has a lot of strengths, slightly more than Dawson’s Landing site, and provided great opportunities,” Wittman said.
Over the summer, the suitability of each site was re-evaluated.
“We looked at it through a very different lens than previously,” Wittman said.
“The Gateway Site was suitable for more expansion, but both sites can accommodate the required space of the buildings and the parking they need,” he said.
The Gateway site would require extensive rezoning and bylaw revisions. However, the Dawson’s Landing site is ready to be serviced.
The Dawson’s Landing site strengths included adjacency to Rocky View Schools (RVS) site permits allowing for the possibility of joint use, surrounding community will build out sooner, appropriate site servicing is already planned, strong connection to planned retail and high street, location reinforces new planned city centre, and the location is more centralized within Chestermere.
The weaknesses of the Dawson’s Landing site include the site and facility will not be visible from Chestermere Blvd or Highway 1A, less arterial connectivity, and the site is not large enough to fully contain field space making it reliant on sharing fields with RVS.
At the Dawson’s Landing site there is potential for high traffic congestion and reduced access due to adjacent planned retail, lower growth potential, and lower potential for connections to planned future transit along Chestermere Blvd or Highway 1A.
The Gateway Site strengths include the site being directly visible from Chestermere Blvd or Highway 1A, larger size permit fields to be contained on-site, and more and easier road connections.
The weaknesses of the Gateway Site include the site being underserviced in the current plan, no synergy with adjacent sites or uses, the site is at the edge of the city, and farther from most Chestermerians, and fewer access points.
“They both work fairly well for supporting the intended use. Dawson’s Landing was always anticipated for being a recreation site, as the servicing was planned. The Gateway Site was not anticipated as being a recreation facility and not adequately serviced,” Wittman said.
“The end result was the purchase of the land and the cost of servicing the land would be 28 times greater on the Gateway Site,” he said.
Adding, “Both sites were highly suitable, the Gateway Site has more costs, uncertainty, and risks associated with it.”
The Dawson’s Landing servicing and land costs represented one per cent of the overall project.
The Gateway site servicing and land cost represented 19 per cent of the overall project cost and was $22 million higher than the Dawson’s Landing site.
“Both facilities are adequate in terms of their size, they both have their benefits, they are very comparable but ultimately because of the site development risks, financial constraints, the Dawson’s Landing site appears to be a stronger candidate for development at this time,” Wittman said.