New leisure centre proposed for Saskatoon's east side

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Saskatoon's planning committee has approved a recommendation for the city to work with the YMCA on a new joint leisure centre on the east side.

"So the work we get to do now is all the other fun work — in the details, in the weeds, figuring out exactly how the residents will benefit," YMCA Saskatoon CEO Dean Dodge told the committee on Monday.

"And we have to remember, Y members are residents. They are residents of the community. And when we look at how this partnership will impact both YMCA and the city, we think it'll allow each organization to bring its best to this partnership."

According to an administration report, the facility would provide aquatic, fitness, wellness, community development and leadership programs.

If city council approves the recommendation, administration will continue discussions with YMCA to develop an agreement in principle, the report said.

"The demand for new recreation facilities does require the City to be innovative and seek out new partnerships, which is the basis for the proposed partnership with the YMCA," the report said.

"With the projected population of the Holmwood Sector, at a build-out of 75,000 to 80,000 people, the development of a new East Side Leisure Centre will be needed to provide community access to a broad range of recreational opportunities."

Administration would also continue discussions with the Saskatoon Public Schools and Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools related to the planning of an integrated leisure centre with the two new high schools being planned for the Holmwood Suburban Centre.

The Holmwood Suburban Development Area area, which includes the Brighton neighbourhood, has a projected population of 75,000 to 80,000 people when built out.

The YMCA partnership would provide an equivalent level of access to residents of Saskatoon as in other leisure centres; provide value-added benefit to the YMCA by providing a second location; provide the YMCA’s access to capital and operational fundraising, sponsorship and volunteer support not available to the city; and provide economic value in the reduced mill rate support required to operate the facility.

Chair Troy Davies compared the arrangement to the Merlis Besher Centre, a partnership between the city, the University of Saskatchewan and the Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association, which he said has had a "huge impact" at a small cost to taxpayers.

"I can't wait to see how this is going to play out," he said.