Servus Place a facility to take pride in

by ROGER LEMIEUX, St. Albert city councillor

Having sat on St. Albert city council for about four years now, I can say that one of the issues I hear about most often from citizens is Servus Credit Union Place.

I’ve heard lots of complaints, mainly about the locker rooms — they’re too small, there aren’t enough of them — and that the fitness areas were packed and more equipment was needed.

So, when I started visiting Servus Place myself about six months ago to work out, I thought I’d check out some of these complaints first-hand. I’ve even made a point over the last month or so to go to the facility at different times during the day, from early morning to late evening, and checked out almost every corner, from the third-floor running track to the second-floor weight room to the community gym on the main floor.

And while I could see that some improvements could be made, they don’t require immediate attention.

I’ve used the running track, the treadmills in the fitness centre, and the free weights. The track is never crowded, and in every corner are free weights, exercise bikes and floor mats free to use. And in the weight room, even in the busiest times, if had to wait for a cardio machine, it was only for a minute or two. The quality of the equipment is state-of-the-art, and there are always staff roaming around, willing to help.

As for lockers, there hasn’t been one time that I’ve had a problem finding a locker. Sometimes, it’s in the seldom-used dressing room on the main floor by the basketball courts. Still, I don’t see any immediate need to spend taxpayer dollars on the facility.

I’ve also noticed that there’s a real variety of users, from kids in the aquatic centre to seniors keeping fit to young mothers walking the track. It creates a wonderful, warm feeling that is welcoming to all.

Servus Place is a facility that I, as a St. Albertan, am proud of, and it is something the whole city should be proud of. City council of the day locked in a price of $47.2 million for the facility; to build it today would cost upwards of $140 million.

Of course, as St. Albert grows, so too will the recreational needs of our citizens. A new ice surface is definitely on the horizon and could be located at Servus Place, although it is not currently a funded item in the City’s capital budget. And, as north Edmonton neighbourhoods continue to build out and attract residents, it is conceivable that more of them will start making the short trip to use St. Albert’s facilities.

But, for the time being, Servus Place is an excellent place to participate in family sports and individual health, and one that, in its present shape, should serve us well into the future.