Sandy Casselman 
LJI Reporter

EMBRUN – The township of Russell’s Recreation Complex project (currently in its first two of four phases) is on track and under budget.

Director of parks and recreation Céline Guitard provided an update on the project during the March 1 council meeting. Phase 1 includes the design, tender and construction of two tennis courts, two basketball courts, and the Jonathan Pitre Park, which will include accessible play structures and senior exercise equipment. Phase 2 is focused on functional programming and community consultations.

Since December 2020, Guitard has been meeting with staff bi-weekly. The township’s project team includes CAO Jean Leduc, director of infrastructure Jonathan Bourgon, director of finance Richard Godin, director of planning, building and economic development Dominique Tremblay, recreation operations manager Kevin Bird, and Guitard.

Guitard also meets with project leaders, the Colliers Group, on a bi-weekly basis.

The Phase 1 prime consultant was awarded to N45, whose representatives began working with staff in early February. During the Dec. 7, 2020 council meeting, Russell politicians approved the plan, along with a budget of $375,000, for Phases 1 and 2 of the project. In last week’s update, Guitard told council that after hiring N45, the actual numbers are roughly $216,000 less than expected, with the first phase coming in at roughly $90,390 and the second phase at roughly $68,400.

A finance meeting to discuss Phases 3 and 4 was held in early February.

Guitard told council the August 2021 report from Colliers will include operational and capital cost estimates, along with a breakdown of costs per feature, such as library, pool, or arena.

In addition to a grant application to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) to cover the cost of the condition assessments of the township’s current arenas.

Guitard said there are two separate fundraising campaigns being organized, one for the complex and one for the accessible park.

As for community input, Guitard said survey response has exceeded expectations. She said she was told by Colliers Group that 500 completed surveys would be considered good.

As of March 1, she told council there were 710 surveys completed. While staff are excited about the feedback, Guitard said she would like to see greater input from Francophone residents. She said 629 of the completed surveys had been completed by Anglophone residents, while only 81 had been completed by those who speak French.

The survey is online until March 12.

Guitard told council that Colliers will soon be launching a Request for Information (RFI) to gauge interest from local businesses, service groups, and organizations who may be interested in operating in the new complex. A second online public consultation meeting is scheduled for tonight, March 10 at 6:30 p.m. While this event is geared toward the Francophone population, Guitard said questions and comments are welcome from all Russell residents.