Sandy Casselman 
Villager Staff

EMBRUN – The Township of Russell is moving ever closer to realizing its goal of constructing a multi-use recreational complex in the near future.

“The future recreational complex will be Russell Township’s largest project in our history,” Mayor Pierre Leroux said. “I am glad to see our financial planning over the past few years has put us in a very good position. While there is still lots of discussions on what will eventually be the final product, I am glad to see that council’s desires for this project is generally aligned.”

Colliers Project Leaders, specifically Senior Project Manager Scott O’Hearn, and municipal staff presented Phase 2 of the project, layout options and cost analysis, during a three-hour virtual special council meeting August 31. Russell’s Director of Finances and Treasurer Richard Godin weighed in on the finance portion of the discussion, while Director of Parks and Recreation Céline Guitard started the meeting.

“It’s a very important night for the council, for the community, for the administration, for everyone,” Guitard said. “We’ve been working on this project, at least, for the last two years. We put a lot of time, work, and effort in this report, so hopefully it will have a great outcome at the end of the night.”

While O’Hearn presented four potential layouts in his report, council landed on a plan that wasn’t listed, one that kept the township within its targeted $55-million envelope. The core, or the starting point, for the plan will be a six-lane pool, three-pad arena, and a library.

“That could be a start,” Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Jean Leduc said. “You will see all those analysis and confirmations and then maybe there will be a need or want for additions or deletions on those plans.”

Council also agreed that the information should be presented to the library’s board of directors at its next meeting on September 16. Validation from the library board for the proposed project, including operational costs and revenues, is expected by October.

While there may be additional discussions this month, Leduc has suggested staff will return to council with an update at the end of October or early November. He said he expects a public consultation won’t happen until early in the year, which will be followed by a presentation of the outcome in February or March 2022. To avoid issues with a lame duck council, as 2022 is an election year, Leduc suggested council should be targeting May, or June at the latest, for a final decision. “There’s no decision that’s final today. As we move forward with this plan, we’ll say ‘we think we should adjust,’ and we’ll adjust down the road,” Leroux said. “I think once we see those in-depth operational numbers that will have an impact. We’re dropping the gym and the stage, and the theatre and we’ve heard a lot of people asking about that stuff, so the core is good, we’ll start from there and we’ll see where the plan goes.”