Lacombe Mayor Grant Creasey concedes the city’s $10.8 operations facility is not a glamour project.
But it is seen as crucial to the job of delivering services, from snowplowing and pothole filling to water main repairs and park maintenance, for decades to come.
“Council is excited to see this critical project move ahead,” said Creasey. “After an extensive development phase, Lacombe city council is confident the project will deliver value for the community.”
At a ground-breaking ceremony for the 25,500-square-foot operations office and shop building on Thursday morning, Creasey acknowledged the project has its critics.
“Quite often public works facilities may not be the sexiest facilities a municipality produces and is perhaps viewed by the public as excessive or money not necessarily well spent, but I can assure you that the entire council team does not feel that way.”
A value review committee, which included third-party reviewers, city council members and administration, held a series of workshops to determine what was needed and the budget.
“With any expenditure of this magnitude and this type of facility, there’s a tremendous amount of varied opinions, whether it’s construction, location and lots of other factors,” said Creasey.
“It took that long to come together with a clear plan to move forward and one that we’re going to be very successful with.”
Work on the project in Len Thompson Industrial Park began last year when the north part of the site was graded in preparation for construction to begin this summer on the operations office and shop building expected to be completed next spring. Cold storage for equipment and a place to keep sand and salt for road maintenance are also planned.
It is one of biggest civic projects in recent years. The new police station opened in 2016 cost about $8 million and the $13.5 million sportsplex redevelopment held its grand opening in fall 2017.
The city has talked about the need to replace the existing public works complex, parts of which date to the 1950s, for at least a decade.
“It’s an aging facility and has fulfilled its useful life,” said Creasey. “We have done some upgrades over the years to try to squeeze the maximum amount of life out of it but it’s over-capacity now.
Lacombe’s director of operations and planning Jordan Thompson said moving public works out of a residential area will be a big improvement.
“It’s much more appropriate for the types of uses that are going to be happening on the site, with heavy equipment, with trucks, with stockpiles of materials.
“This site ensures we can grow for the long term and we’re more in line with our neighbours.”
About 50 people, rising to 80 in the summer, will work out of the new complex.
There are no plans yet for the existing facilities.
To ensure the city gets the best value the construction schedule will remain flexible, said Thompson.
“So, if things do arise that would require a scheduling delay, that’s preferable to a cost increase for us.”