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Thursday, 24 November 2011 11:30

Integrated facility partners listen to the public in Swift Current

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By Matthew Liebenberg
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Swift Current residents had another opportunity to learn more about a proposed integrated facility and to submit comments during the second public consultation open house at the Credit Union iplex Nov. 23.

The event, which was attended by about 150 people, was a follow-up to an initial public consultation session that took place in July. Since then residents had an opportunity to submit their views about the proposed development through various facilitated discussion board sessions as well as paper and online surveys.

Representatives from the four partner organizations made presentations about the initiative. P3A Architecture consultant James Youck then provided an overview of public input received so far during the process. During a 30 minute break people had an opportunity to review the information boards that were set up around the room and to also interact with representatives from the partner organizations. During the final portion of the meeting there was a question and answer session that gave people an opportunity to raise their concerns.

Speaking after the open house, Swift Current Mayor Jerrod Schafer said the intention of the public consultation has been to have a meaningful discussion with people.

“There's lots of valid concerns and what we have to do is take them and look for ways to alleviate them so that we have development that people are proud of,” he emphasized. “We're trying to look for ways to maximize the benefits for residents, not detract services or to make it more difficult and that's why it's been a pretty extensive due diligence process.”

Although public input is still welcome, Schafer said this session was basically bringing the public consultation process to an end.

“This is I believe the 10th or 11th overall opportunity that we've had out in the public for people to make presentation or to write on the boards or to give feedback. We've had an online survey. So I think the partners will regroup again and see where we'll go from here. We're always looking for more feedback, so I encourage any resident to contact any member of any of the boards that are involved.”

The proposed integrated facility in the city's northeast corner will be build around the new Cypress Regional Hospital. The initiative is a result of cooperation between the City of Swift Current, Cypress Health Region, Chinook School Division and Holy Trinity School Division.

They signed an agreement on Dec. 10, 2010 to work together to build a facility that will include a Catholic and public school, long-term care facility and various City services such as an aquatic centre, art gallery, public library and a field house with amenities for activities such as soccer, fitness and a wellness centre.

So far only the Chinook and Holy Trinity school boards have secured funding for a joint-use facility and they are moving ahead with design development. The Cypress Health Region has completed a functional plan for a long-term care facility and further progress depends on funding from the province. The City of Swift Current's components of the proposed facility are all still in a conceptual phase. Schafer anticipates that the next round of infrastructure planning funding will be a key source for the City.

“I'd like to say that six or eight years down the road, we could have a large portion of a facility like this with very minimal cost to local taxpayers,” he noted.

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