Plans on sharing the cost of a new arena for the U of A on south campus are coming along, except for the problem of parking. The Saville Centre is used more frequently than ever dreamed, and it’s created an almost daily crunch for users of multi-sport facility to find one of 2,000 parking spots.
The city and the U of A are on the verge of an agreement for a $65 million twin rinks that will also include a centre of excellence for high performance training. The city would be in for $20 million, private fund raising is most of the way towards the $20 million contribution. There’s still no word from the province yet but the U of A’s dean of physical education and recreation remains hopeful.
“We’re trying to find a solution to parking,” said Kerry Mummery. “It’s very important to us. We don’t want to see a very successful proposal die because of parking.”
It was described to members of the Community and Public Services Committee as a problem of ‘parasitic parking.’
“We know that there are people who walk through the front doors of those facilities, and walk out the back doors of those facilities and access the LRT,” Mummery said.
“I experience that every other Saturday, so I know it’s a real thing,” said Coun. Michael Walters. “You finally get seated and you’re watching your kid play basketball and the 45 minute conversation with parents is parking.”
U of A staff feel a solution can be found. In part through looking at how events are timed, so Saville users have a shot at finding a spot instead of endlessly circling.
The committee will have the mayor write a letter to U of A indicating support to the twin arena project subject to other funding, its scope and the parking issue.
Mayor Iveson told reporters it wouldn’t be fair to have taxpayers completely foot the separate $1.3 million bill for additional parking. He said it’s not like the Terwillegar Rec Centre where you can have ‘acres and acres’ of parking.
“If those district park sites are large enough then you can afford to provide the surface parking because it’s relatively economical. It’s about $10,000 a stall to provide surface parking. The challenge is once you start to move into structured parking you’re looking from anywhere between $30,000 to $50,000 a stall and to give structured parking, either underground or parkade away for free is just harder to do.”
He added that the cost of adding parking to inner city, small facilities would also be prohibitively expensive for the city, so it’s matter of picking your poison.
Coun. Bryan Anderson wants to see free parking remain for centre users and he pressed U of A staff to write something into the contract. “Would you be quite prepared to write into the agreement for the $20 million contribution from the City of Edmonton that the users of the Go Centre at the Saville Community Sports Centre will continue to be provided with free parking in perpetuity?”
“I don’t think that’s relevant councillor, we have a separate agreement,” said Andrew Sharman, the U of A’s vice-president of facilities and operations.
“I think it’s relevant,” said Anderson.
The hope is to have the twin rinks opened by 2019 or 2020.
The arena report is here at item 6.1