North Battleford mayor Ian Hamilton said Tuesday he was pleased with the Town of Battleford's commitment to pledge $1.6 million to the City of North Battleford for regional recreation capital projects.
Battleford passed that motion at Monday's town council meeting.
The recreation funding was not specifically earmarked by the Town, but the funds are widely expected to count towards the Credit Union CUPlex, the new multipurpose facility.
"We're very excited to have that affirmed and confirmed," said Hamilton of the financial commitment, which he said he was always very confident would happen.
"We've always felt and known that the town of Battleford was part of this project."
The pledge of a concrete commitment, with funds to be raised from taxpayers over a 10-year time frame, is a far cry from the multiplex funding plan put forward by the town two years ago.
That proposal, to match fundraising within Battleford with up to $1.5 million in town funds, was criticized by a number of multiplex supporters at the time as fostering uncertainty about the level of Battleford's commitment to the project.
The plan drew a public rebuke from then-multiplex fundraising head Kelley Bahrey at a public meeting on the project in the fall of 2008, as well as criticism from then-mayor Julian Sadlowski, who told the media he believed the proposal wouldn't work.
That past controversy was still on the minds of town councillors at Monday night's meeting. Councillor Donna Lavin said previous comments from North Battleford residents that Battleford was riding the backs of the city "should be put to rest."
She noted the town spends more per capita on parks and recreation than the city does.
"We're already contributing more than our share, and for people to say we're living off the backs of the city residents is garbage. It's not right, so the media really needs to let it be known the town already pays more per capita," said Lavin.
Mayor Chris Odishaw defended his council's previous positions on funding and said the town's contribution to the CUPlex project required "out-of-the-box" thinking.
"It's pretty hard to find another jurisdiction, whether it be Dalmeny and Warman and other communities supporting Saskatoon for their projects or Sherwood Park giving money to Edmonton," said Odishaw.
Tuesday, Hamilton appeared willing to leave behind the issues of the past, as he acknowledged the fiscal constraints Battleford was under.
"I believe that they're doing what they are able to do with the constraints placed upon them, just like everybody else, other municipalities' constraints. We have only so many dollars that can go around and we have to make sure that those are allocated in an equitable manner," said Hamilton.
"I do believe they have chosen this as the proper thing to do at the proper time."
He expects to hear from Battleford in the near future the details of the town's commitment and how it will be paid out.
Confirmation of a Battleford commitment adds to the growing momentum of fundraising for the CUPlex. The fundraising committee hosted an official re-launch at an event at Western Development Museum Thursday night.
As well, the first phase of the tendering process is to be completed Thursday, with tenders to close on the theater component. The evaluation process of the bids will then begin.
"That will be a bit of an indication of what we're going to be looking at as far as estimated costs," said Hamilton.
Having pegged the cost at upwards of $50 million, the City has maintained all along that the actual costs for the four components will be determined only once the project goes to tender.