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Regional recreation centre takes shape

The Gazette takes a behind-the-scenes look at the construction of Morinville's new regional rec-centre.
Rec Centre Tour CC 9400.eps
HERE'S THE GAMEPLAN — Clark Builders site superintendent Brad Reiter, in red, talks with town officials and the media on Wednesday as he led a tour of the new Morinville regional recreation centre, which is currently under construction just east of town.

This time last year, the fields just east of Morinville were just that – empty fields.

Now, they’re a dusty dirt-scape where mammoth machines play and the town’s regional recreation centre is taking shape.

Brad Reiter and project manager Jeremy Koroscil of Clark Builders led media and town officials on a tour of the rec-centre construction site on May 23.

Reiter is the project’s site supervisor and one of about eight Morinville residents on the project’s construction crew. It’s his job to co-ordinate the 80-some contractors on site each day and keep everything on schedule.

Reiter said he took a little extra pride in his work knowing that this project was being built in his hometown.

“My kids are going to play here. It’s going to be good.”

Work on the roughly $24.3 million facility ($28.8 million including servicing) officially started last June and is expected to wrap up by May 2019.

Crews spent most of last year clearing and grading the site for construction, and continue to dig stormwater ponds and shape toboggan hills today, said town community and protective services director David Schaefer. Town council is working on a concept plan for the 77 acres outside the rec-centre building, which may or may not be built-out by the time the centre opens.

“We’ve got groups chomping at the bit for sports fields,” he said, so some areas will likely get developed pretty soon. The rest would likely be seeded so it’s not bare dirt.

Schaefer said one of the first outside items to be built would be the LAV III monument, which would likely go near the parking lot.

Crews spent the first few months of this year driving piles for this roughly 76,000 square-foot facility and are now almost finished assembling its outer shell. The wall modules all came prefabricated, so crews just have to bolt them together, Reiter said. Having the roof almost done has been a huge benefit, as it means they can now keep working inside no matter the weather.

The inside of the rec-centre currently looks like a hangar with a dirt floor. The dressing rooms will go in the middle, and the field house and arena to either side.

“This is the arena component right now,” Koroscil said, standing in the east half of the complex.

“You’re at centre ice.”

Players at centre ice will be able to look up at the exposed metal rafters and shiny ceiling some 48 feet overhead. That shine comes from the Mylar-like material that protects the roof from errant pucks and balls, Koroscil said.

Hockey players will actually be standing about a meter above the Earth’s surface when the rec-centre is finished, Koroscil said. Under their feet will be ice, a concrete pad, insulation, heating and cooling pipes, radon-absorbing rock, and about two feet of clay. Crews will need about 4,000 cubic metres of clay – enough to fill 1.6 Olympic swimming pools – to complete the rec-centre’s clay base.

Roughly 450 fans will be able to watch hockey games from the bleachers on one side of the arena, Koroscil and Reiter said. Another 200 seats will be available for sports fans in the field house.

The front lobby isn’t much more than frames and dirt right now, but will soon host a concession, meeting room, day-care/play area, and front desk, and feature sliding glass doors and glass walls, Reiter and Koroscil said.

You’ll find the main stairs and elevator in front of you when you step into the lobby, Reiter said. Head upstairs, and you’ll find the fitness room to your left (which has windows looking down onto the lobby), washrooms to the right, and two doors in front of you, one for the arena and one for the field house. The concourse beyond those doors will give you a full view of either facility.

The concourse will initially host the rec-centre’s exercise equipment, Schaefer said. The town plans to later put portable bleachers there and to move the equipment to an expanded fitness room. They also hope to take out one of the walls of the lobby to serve as the entrance to the proposed aquatics centre, whenever it gets built.

Expect crews to finish the outside of the building this June and to be deep into interior work by early 2019, Koroscil said.

Schaefer said council would receive 3D renderings of the inside of the rec-centre this June.

Visit for updates on the rec-centre.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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