The volunteer board governing the SLS Centre and Cochrane Arena since 2001 could be coming to an end.

Change is in the wind regarding how the recreation facilities of the town are governed.

Last night, Cochrane council unanimously gave town administration the authority to pursue proposals for a third party to manage and operate the SLS Centre, Cochrane Arena, and other future recreational facilities. It does not include sporting fields.

Whether Rocky View County, which jointly owns the SLS Centre, supports the proposal should be known at today's regular council meeting. Should it agree, proposals will be accepted and reviewed throughout the summer with a decision anticipated in the early fall.

Town CAO Mike Derricott described it as an information-gathering exercise.

"We think it is a critical step and that it will provide us with a best possible decision-making platform to assess what comes next for our recreation components," he told council.

By that, he means additional recreation amenities, something town council has been heavily discussing during its strategic planning sessions.

Councillor Morgan Nagel was eager to learn more and confirmed by approving the RFP that council was not pulling the trigger on making the change.

"It's something that has been bothering me the last few years," said Councillor Nagel. "As we've been looking at our growing pains it is that we obviously are going to need to be probably doubled in our recreation capacity in the coming years and the ballpark numbers we've been throwing around have been anywhere from $75 to $100 million plus to replicate what we already have, and I don't see a way of doing it without exploring all options and thinking outside the box, which is exactly what I think we're talking about here this evening."

In 2001, the Spray Lake Sawmills Recreation Park Society was created to build the first arena at the SLS Centre, known as Totem One. It's since come to include two more arenas, a fieldhouse, and an aquatic centre. 

CAO Derricott says it's now a $100 million facility and will continue to be owned jointly by the town and Rocky View County.