EMBRUN – Township of Russell council was treated to another recreational complex project update earlier this month.

“I just think it’s awesome to see this moving forward,” Coun. Mike Tarnowski said.

The Feb. 7 council meeting saw director of Parks and Recreation Céline Guitard recommend that the proposed option be retained and that the cost estimates revisions for the capital costs, for the main components be carried out by Hanscomb. She said the resulting figures would be brought back to council in March. The main components include the pool, arenas, community hall, and gymnasium. This would include the operational and maintenance costs, as well as the lifecycle costs.

“I would just like to point out that this is very high-level cost estimates at this point in time,” Mayor Pierre Leroux said. “I know that they’ve provided some sketches and drawings but we’re not getting into the nitty gritty right now. Right now, it’s very much for the general components and the square footage of the building.”

Guitard confirmed the mayor’s take on the recommendation, adding that staff have tried to include the core items that council requested in December 2021. She asked council if there were any items not listed that they thought should be included in this initial cost estimate activity. Leroux suggested adding the bowling alley to the list.

“The reason I’m suggesting we add the bowling is because it definitely has a footprint size difference potentially,” he said. “The bowling does change the overall footprint and we have no idea if it’s even viable because we’ve never costed it out.”

During the meeting, council did discuss moving ahead with sole sourcing the design phase in April, as it would save time in comparison to going through the RFP (request for proposal) process. While council appeared to agree on sole sourcing that portion of the project, an official decision was not made during the Feb. 7 session.

“Hanscomb will be working again on cost estimates, so we’re hoping to bring back everything on March 21, and at that time, we can add a discussion about sole sourcing the design or to go through the tender process,” Guitard said.

She said timing is important if staff is to adhere to the timetable set by council, whereby the design contract would be awarded no later than June. She said it must be done by then otherwise the project would be put on hold until the new council takes office in 2023. The current council will enter the lame duck period in August, whereby they’ll be unable to make binding decisions unless at least three-quarters of current council members are re-elected for another term.

“We’ve been with Colliers and N45, so do we want to continue with those two just for the design,” Leroux asked council. “Of course, we’ll go to tender when it comes to construction.”

As for public consultation, council agreed there’s been enough at this point to move forward with the next steps for now. It was noted that project information is kept current on the municipal website; residents can always send comments, and there will, no doubt, be further consultation when the project gets further along and more detailed.

“I’ve always been one to push hard for public consultation. And we have, over the last year, done multiple methods of public consultation and when I look at the feedback we received, and what we’re proposing here tonight, there’s not many things that aren’t included that people were looking for,” the mayor said. “I would be more comfortable saying okay, you know, we go ahead, we do the costing, we award the design contract, and when we get to a further stage, when we start getting into the nitty gritty, looking for further feedback.”

Guitard confirmed that all documents presented to council during the Feb. 7 meeting would be uploaded to the municipality’s website (Russell.ca) where there is a page dedicated to the project. Links to the council meeting’s agenda, as well as the recording of the session, can also be found on the website.