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City to take over Hillcrest Sports Centre in new year

A recent baseline property condition assessment determined that the structure is solid and suitable for continued use for recreational activities
City hall spring 1b
City hall is located at the corner of Main Street and Fairford Street. Photo by Jason G. Antonio

With the Hillcrest Sports Centre structurally sound and still a suitable recreational space, city hall plans to take control of the building and develop a long-term plan for it.

A recent baseline property condition assessment determined that the finishes of the building are “tired” and have exceeded their life expectancy, but the structure is solid and suitable for continued use for recreational activities. Furthermore, an indoor air quality assessment confirmed that some repairs and remediation are required to address water leaks to ensure the health and safety of the building’s occupants.

With this information in hand, city council agreed during its Dec. 16 budget meeting to have city administration assume control of the building. Specifically, council voted unanimously to:

  • Terminate the lease agreement between the municipality and Gymtastiks of Moose Jaw — the main tenant since 2011 — effective Jan. 1, 2021
  • Assume building operations from Jan. 1 to April 30 with $6,000 in utility and maintenance expenses to be funded from the operating budget
  • Negotiate short-term lease agreements with the Moose Jaw Tennis Club, Sowden Flanagan Baseball Training Academy and Hillcrest Golf Club from Jan. 1 to April 30 to recover the remaining operating costs
  • Purchase annual property insurance of $17,000
  • Allocate $50,000 from the facilities building reserve to complete repairs and remediation before April 30
  • Issue an expression of interest to recreational groups and service clubs for future use of the centre and distribute it in January, with suggestions for future lease agreements given to council before March 31
  • Have city administration review opportunities to retrofit Hillcrest Sports Centre and provide city council with detailed capital cost estimates and a business plan before the 2022 budget deliberations

Council discussion

During a recent tour of the building with members of the tennis club, Coun. Heather Eby said she was amazed at how solid the building is, especially with cedar beams holding up the roof. She recalled that council decided not to carry building insurance in 2011 since it was convinced the centre was a disaster.

“And shame on me for not going to look,” she said. “The concrete floor alone (at 14,000 square feet), it’s a lot of concrete. To replicate that somewhere else, I can’t imagine the cost.

“I’m excited about the potential for this … . It will be really great to have a facility like this in Moose Jaw.”

Eby added that besides the eight recreational groups interested in the building, she also knows of service clubs looking for new homes. That means they could take over office space at Hillcrest.

The municipality no longer has shared agreements with schools to use their gyms or access to the former YMCA’s gym, so the centre could fill the gap for community groups, said Coun. Crystal Froese. She added that this is a great proposal, especially since she doesn’t like to see buildings sit empty.

Building operational background

The parks and recreation department expects to see revenues of $12,400 from Jan. 1 to April 30 and expenses of $35,400, leaving a deficit of $23,000. That deficit is expected to be covered by requests in the 2021 budget, a council report explained.

Gymtastiks was a great tenant during the past nine years and completed many building improvements, said parks and recreation director Derek Blais. With that group finding a new home, the department met with the tennis, golf and baseball sub-tenants, which agreed to increase their monthly rent to cover some building operation costs from Jan. 1 to April 30.

Those sub-tenants will be given priority when signing new lease agreements since they committed money to fix the building over the years, he said. However, city hall will need $50,000 from the facilities building reserve to make repairs and remediation before it enters into longer-term rental or lease commitments.

There is $342,395 in that reserve, but it is expected to have $292,395 after repairs are made.

The entire building has a footprint of 38,370 square feet.

The next 2021 budget meeting is Monday, Dec. 21 at 3 p.m.

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