The public will have an opportunity to speak Wednesday at a city committee about the proposed Calgary multisport fieldhouse.
In January, councillors made the fieldhouse the focal point of the Foothills Area Redevelopment Plan, saying it would be the catalyst for further growth in the area. In doing so, they folded the prior Foothills Athletic Park Redevelopment Advisory Committee (FAPRAC) and started a new committee dedicated to moving along the long-awaited multisport facility.
Wednesday marks the first meeting of the committee.
In that meeting, there’s a recommendation from admin to come back with “amenity requirements that consider the vision, operational and event hosting requirements” to a meeting in Q2.
“The Fieldhouse responds to a long-standing need for indoor practice and play space in Calgary and is envisioned as a community hub and world-class sport tourism destination that will raise the profile of Calgary, Alberta and Canada,” the admin report reads.
As a part of this meeting, committee members will consider a procedural request to have the public speak on the item.
Ward 3 Coun. Jasmine Mian, who chairs the committee, said with it being the first meeting, it was important to hear from the community on a project they’ve been working toward for a long time.
“I’m interested to hear about the project from multiple angles,” Mian said.
She said there’s the obvious sports aspect, but there are economic and tourism angles to the project as well.
“Calgary is one of the only major cities without a multisport fieldhouse and we are the richest province and spend the second least on sport per capita,” Coun. Mian said.
“I think it’s really important that we hear from those who are most affected by this and start with those thoughts in mind.”
Validating the fieldhouse needs
With the admin plan to bring forward the amenity refinements, Mian said this presents a stream to find out what’s needed.
“It’s not only what’s said at committee, but there’s a lot of engagement going on in the background to ensure that we’re revalidating the need and making sure that the community voices are heard on this,” Mian said.
Given the opportunity, many of the groups pushing the fieldhouse project will likely line up to support the project on Wednesday. When asked, Coun. Mian didn’t seem concerned it would be a cheerleading session.
“Like any project, it’s not going to proceed without feedback and without criticism, but that’s how great city building gets done,” she said.
The city has set aside more than $100 million for the project, including a recent $20 million addition. They’d need provincial and federal support for the project to move ahead. The last figure, from 2019, pegged the cost of the building at nearly $300 million.
Prior to this committee, FAPRAC was steering an overarching, mixed-used development plan for the area. The fieldhouse was still a centerpiece in that plan.
The former chair of that now-defunct committee, and current Calgary-Skyview Liberal MP George Chahal, told LiveWire Calgary that he believes the fieldhouse holds the most public benefit of any of the city’s major projects.
He was keen to see federal support for it, too.
“I want to work closely with city council to ensure that we can get this project off the ground and moving forward as quickly as possible,” he said.