It is with extreme gratitude I write this blog post. As you may know, I care deeply about Scona Pool and its reincarnation as Rollie Miles Rec Centre. In fact, hundreds of community members have held this issue dear to our hearts for more than 11 years.

On Monday, June 7, 2021, City Council chose to move this project forward. Council voted to fund design for Rollie Miles Rec Centre. It is now in the running for construction funding in the 2023-2026 capital budget.

What does this mean?

Well, for one thing, it means we can move forward with real steps to a long-term solution. There is hope Rollie Miles Rec Centre will open in 2026 —  17 years after community advocacy really kicked into high gear. Designing Rollie Miles also puts a new model for small-scale rec on the map for the rest of Edmonton, including areas like Oliver.

As a community advocate, I’ve been co-leading the charge for a long time. Should I be granted the privilege of the next Edmonton Public School Trustee for Ward F, my advocacy role for Rollie Miles must change. I’m not worried. Here’s why:

Our advocacy style has proven successful. We know positivity and working together works best.

We’ve built up incredible people capacity. People, who know how to advocate and use their voice. People, who know growing the good news is often more effective than dwelling on the setbacks. These are people who know what the capital budget debates in 2023 must look like.

It cannot be “should we fund Rollie Miles Rec Centre or Lewis Rec Centre, or Coronation?”

Instead, we will ask “how do we work together, to ensure funding for all three facilities?”

I’d argue this work is just as important to get right as the facility design itself. Attitudes of “us vs. them” weaken our collective ability to provide public services. “We all win when we uplift one another” will get us further.

Logistics matter, and we’re on top of it.

The design process will kick off by City Administration soon. This means we’ll know what Rollie Miles Rec Centre will look like and how much it will cost to build. It will be our job to ensure this process is completed in time for 2023 construction budget decision time.

Our community must strengthen its relationship with city staff. We must collaborate with them, and with one another, to keep this work on track. If we miss the 2023 construction budget, our next chance likely won’t be until 2027. That means a pretty design sitting on the shelf for four years. It is essential we get our design homework turned in on time.

If elected Trustee, how will I continue to champion Rollie Miles to completion?

  1. Partnering with my City Council counterpart to address issues as they arise.
  2. Working to ensure the school communities of Strathcona, Queen Alexandra, and Allendale are considered during design. All three schools are within walking distance of Rollie Miles Rec Centre and benefit from its construction.
  3. Collaborating with fellow EPSB Trustee and City Council colleagues to set up the 2023 construction funding discussion for success.
  4. Inviting my Edmonton Catholic School District Trustee colleague to ensure Our Lady Mount Carmel School use is also considered in design.
  5. Continuing to advocate that Scona Pool’s doors stay open until Rollie Miles’ grand opening.

Thank You

I’d like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the hundreds of volunteers who have come forward again and again on this project. Heartfelt thanks also go out to City Council for saying YES.

In particular, thank you to Councillor Henderson for championing this project. Your support has been invaluable.

Councillors Walters, Knack, McKeen – thank you, for your encouraging words during the June 7th Council discussion.

To Mayor Iveson, it was a surprise to be personally acknowledged by you during Council discussion. I am humbled to have received this praise publicly. On behalf of the hundreds of people who have worked so tirelessly over the years, and in particular Elaine Solez, thank you.

I look forward to continuing to support this project. Rollie Miles is an important step toward the City’s vision of 15-minute communities. It is also an important part of making sure our students have access to the benefits of recreation.  

For now, I’m going to have a slice of ice cream cake to celebrate this important project milestone. Please join me for a virtual slice, anytime.

Working with you for education grounded in community,

Julie Kusiek

Watch the full Council proceedings.  It begins at 4:55:30 mark and continues until the vote. You can even catch a shoutout from Mayor Don Iveson for my years of advocacy on this project.

Read more in my previous blog post about Scona Pool.