Terwillegar expressway, velodrome among spending approved in city budget

City council approved spending $101 million toward upgrading Terwillegar Drive to an expressway Friday, along with a slew of other major building projects

The plan to convert the southwest roadway into a freeway dates back to its initial construction in the 1980s. The switch to an expressway plan was concocted during consultations earlier this year.

“The proposed expressway approach is less infrastructure intensive. It moves away from ramps and overpasses and concrete trenches, and moves towards measured investments,” said Ward 9 Coun. Tim Cartmell, who brought the amendment that council passed, approving design and construction of phase one of the Terwillegar plan.

The expressway plan is part of $4.3 billion in proposed spending on building and renewal projects for the next four years that council debated as it continues to roll through budget discussions on city spending for the next four years.

A long-delayed plan for the Coronation Community Recreation Centre, which will feature an indoor velodrome, got the final $16 million needed to get the project built. For years, advocates of the plan have argued for the 250-metre indoor cycling facility to be included and attached to a rare centre that will also feature a pool and running facilities — making it particularly attractive for triathletes.

Funding for the facility was nearly in place, but when cash expected from the province didn’t materialize, it also eliminated a potential federal grant, leaving the project short.

The community is also pitching in a portion of the outstanding cost, but Ward 2 Coun. Bev Esslinger said the private fundraising push needs the boost of knowing the project will actually be built.

“I think if we’re going to advance other rec centres, we need to complete what we started,” said Esslinger, who argued for the funding.

Soccer fans also got a win Friday when council approved an expansion to the Edmonton Soccer Association’s south centre, which will see the city cover $18.5 million in tax-supported debt in concert with a $9.5 million contribution from the soccer association in self-supporting debt.

“I know it’s a pretty big ask, but at the same time there hasn’t been a single association that has offered to chip in $9.5 million of their own money into any project in the full budget,” said Ward 12 Coun. Moe Banga, who brought the amendment.

Though council has been listening to budget presentations and debating for several days, a number of decisions on day-to-day city services have yet to be resolved. Council is expected to resume deliberations on Tuesday.

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