East Winnipeg rec centre price goes up, but so has need for facility, councillor says


Advertise with us

The East of the Red Rec Plex proposed for northeast Winnipeg is now expected to cost about $89 million and be built in 2026, if a plan is approved and funded in time.

Read this article for free:


Already have an account? Log in here »

To continue reading, please subscribe:

Monthly Digital Subscription

$4.75 per week*

  • Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
  • Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
  • Access News Break, our award-winning app
  • Play interactive puzzles

*Billed as $19.00 plus GST every four weeks. Cancel anytime.

The East of the Red Rec Plex proposed for northeast Winnipeg is now expected to cost about $89 million and be built in 2026, if a plan is approved and funded in time.

An updated feasibility study for the regional recreation complex notes the revised cost estimate is about $7 million higher than previously expected and suggests the city seek senior government funding to help cover the bill.

While last year’s heavy snowfall and years of pandemic-related costs have dwindled city resources, council’s finance chairman said the new recreation hub remains a key budget priority.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve invested, particularly in our aquatic infrastructure….(Aquatic facilities are) not inexpensive to build and operate but it is a core service. Things like swimming lessons are life-safety issues. One of the complaints I get frequently is (that) we don’t have the capacity in our pools to offer (enough spaces for) learn-to-swim lessons,” said Coun. Jeff Browaty.

The North Kildonan councillor said there is also a clear need to add rec services in northeast Winnipeg, where the population has grown substantially in recent years.

“It really is due for an aquatic and rec complex like this,” he said.

The city’s draft 2023 budget proposes $2 million for preliminary design work on the 92,000-square-foot multi-use complex, which would be attached to the library at 1 Transcona Blvd. The site would offer a “one-stop shop” for recreation that would include an indoor track, fitness areas, multi-purpose rooms, gymnasiums, a community kitchen, leisure/wave pool, a lap pool and waterslide tower.

The 2023 update to the project’s feasibility study states there is great demand for such facilities in the area.

“The growth in northeast Winnipeg has demonstrated a growing need for new indoor recreation space, as the city has not invested in this type of facility since the construction in the 1970s of the Elmwood-Kildonan stand-alone indoor pool,” the study states.

The cost, previously estimated at about $82.2 million, has risen to $89.2 million. The report says the increase would cover energy-efficiency efforts, site remediation and increased parking requirements. More parking is needed because Winnipeg Transit park and ride and rapid-transit facilities are no longer being considered at the site, it says.

It suggests the city can apply for Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program funding to help cover the price tag. If that succeeds, the city would expect to pay about $25.8 million, with the remaining costs paid by the other two levels of government.

Browaty said housing developments surrounding the site are expected to generate enough tax revenue to offset most of that cost.

“We have an awful lot of incremental taxes from that immediate vicinity. Right across Transcona Boulevard is our former public works yard that has very successfully developed into a residential and commercial hub,” he said.

The goal to construct the facility three years from now is possible even though a final design, cost estimate and plan to pay for it have yet to be finalized, Browaty added.

“(The timeline is) maybe a tad on the aggressive side but I think it’s within the realm of reason,” he said.

The report notes the design work will help refine the early cost estimate.

A spokesman for Mayor Scott Gillingham noted developing a more precise budget is key to fulfilling the mayor’s campaign promise to expedite the project.

“We need to do this work before we can have conversations with the federal and provincial governments about sharing construction costs,” said Colin Fast.

The East Kildonan-Transcona Community Committee is scheduled to discuss the feasibility update on Feb. 24.


Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.

Report Error Submit a Tip


Advertise With Us