St. John’s city council awarded a $31.9-million tender for the new Wedgewood Park community centre to low bidder EllisDon Monday night.
EllisDon’s bid was the lowest of the eight received for the project, which will house a 25-metre lane pool, leisure pool and waterslides, a 6,700-square foot gym, a daycare, a seniors’ area, an outdoor playground and other multi-use spaces.
Coun. Danny Breen said he was pleased to support the awarding of the tender for the project, which has been in the planning stages for two years.
“This is the first purpose-built recreation centre to be built in St. John’s,” he said. “This is done, designed to accommodate the programs that our staff offer to the residents of this city, day-in, day-out.”
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What started as an idea for a Walk of Fame featuring Newfoundland and Labrador’s prominent figures in arts and culture was killed by council Monday night out of fear the project’s scope — and potential price tag — was getting out of hand.
It was Coun. Tom Hann — who suggested the concept for the Walk of Fame, to be located at the expanded St. John’s Convention Centre — who moved to reject a recommendation from the community services and housing standing committee that would have had staff investigate other sectors, including research and academia, science and technology, sports and military service, among others.
Hann said the idea had “gotten a little, I think, out of control and taken on a life of its own” since he suggested a way to honour actors and musicians from this province who have succeeded on national and international stages.
“I suggested just a small walk of fame on the sidewalk in front of the centre,” said Hann. “However, if we accept what’s before us right and now, and include it, all the artists, cultural workers, researchers, those in science, technology, sports, business, government and so on, which is in this recommendation, I think we’d need a sidewalk to go from here to Holyrood and back again.”
Council was split evenly on the matter. Coun. Bernard Davis disagreed with Hann, saying the recommendation only directs staff to investigate best practices of other places with similar walks, and doesn’t commit the city to any expense.
“This wasn’t going to be a catch-all anything at this point. It was just going to be an introduction to it from our staff to bring it back to us.”
Council voted 6-5 to reject the committee’s recommendation. Hann, Coun. Sandy Hickman, Coun. Art Puddister, Coun. Bruce Tilley, Coun. Wally Collins and Mayor Dennis O’Keefe voted to reject the recommendation, while Davis, Coun. Dave Lane, Coun. Jonathan Galgay, Coun. Danny Breen and Deputy Mayor Ron Ellsworth voted to accept the recommendation.