A Saskatoon city councillor says she is “disappointed” with the details of a new plan for city centre recreation facilities.
Coun. Pat Lorje said she doesn’t like the plan’s proposed locations which include two options: partner with the YMCA to enhance programming at the downtown location or expand the White Buffalo Youth Lodge (WBYL) building on 20th Street or build something close to it.
“The proposals will perhaps enhance YMCA programming, but I don’t see how they’re going to help the little kids that are going to have to cross that very dangerous intersection of 22nd and Idylwyld to access those programs,” Lorje said.
She also said expanding the WBYL would not fit with the surrounding commercial shopping and busy street, comparing it to “plunking down a facility right in the middle of Broadway Avenue and Main Street.”
City administration have partnered with the YMCA and Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) and want to work with Saskatoon Public Schools (SPS) including a partnership with Princess Alexandra Community School.
Lorje said she would rather see a new facility built on a vacant piece of city-owned land located across the street from Station 20 West, between 19th and 20th Streets at Avenue K South.
“What we need is a facility that will be much closer to the epicentre of the largest youth population in Saskatoon,” she said, adding she believes the vacant lot provides good access for surrounding Caswell Hill, Westmount, Riversdale, Pleasant Hill and King George neighbourhoods.
The land was identified as a good spot for a new recreation facility in the 2014 The Junction study.
Lorje said she was “shocked” when that location was not picked as part of this partnership. Rather than expanding existing programs at current facilities, Lorje said she would like to see new skating and possibly swimming facilities built.
Director of recreation and community development Lynne Lacroix said the vacant lot was identified in their needs assessment and feasibility study and is not completely off the table. However, because the city is partnering with other groups, all their needs must be considered, she said.
“Right now where we’ve said is where we know we’ve already got an existing facility and people know where to come to and have been participating is at the White Buffalo area,” she said, adding moving further away from Princess Alexandra may not appeal to SPS.
Lacroix said they hope to see movement by the end of the year and the next step is for all the involved parties to find funding for their projects. She said the YMCA has already started to fundraiser.