Pool cost escalates

Illustration of what the upgraded Terrace B.C. leisure pool might look like. On the left is a water fountain and on the right a lazy river.  - Contributed
Illustration of what the upgraded Terrace B.C. leisure pool might look like. On the left is a water fountain and on the right a lazy river.
— image credit: Contributed

TAXPAYERS will be paying more than first anticipated for a major overhaul of the city’s aquatic centre, thanks to higher than anticipated construction costs and add-ons to an original plan.

As of last fall, the gap between money already in hand and what would need to be borrowed was just under $2.7 million but that figure has now climbed to just over $3.8 million.

Council approved the new borrowing figure March 9, citing a shift in what was intended to be critically-needed repairs to the decades-old facility for a substantial overhaul adding new features that were at first not considered. In total, the city now estimates the entire cost at $8.8 million.

A $4.235 million federal gas tax rebate, applied for in 2015 and granted in 2016, enabled a more comprehensive project than first contemplated, council heard. And some of the add-ons came as a result of comments and suggestions submitted by members of the public last year.

One other factor influencing the final cost came when the lowest construction bid received was about $1 million higher than an estimate provided to the city last fall of $5.8 million.

Prince George-based Viking Construction has now been chosen to do the work at $6.85 million. Three other bids were submitted with the highest one being in the $10 million range.

“It’s important to remember that if the city had not been successful in obtaining the gas tax grant, we would have been doing two major repair projects at an estimated cost of $2.9 million within the next five years,” said city leisure services director Carmen Didier in laying out the project for council.

Those projects would’ve improved accessibility and added a family change room at a cost of $1 million in 2019 and repairs to the pool deck and drains/gutters at a cost of $1.9 million in 2020, she added.

“The approval of the gas tax grant has been good news for the city, as it has meant we can do all of the repairs at once and leverage the monies and enhance and modernize the facility,” Didier said.

Additions and changes, some of which were based on public comments, came last fall and include increasing the water depth and volume of the main pool, adding a lazy river and increasing the fitness room from its existing 1,200 square feet to 2,000 square feet, Didier said. There were also changes around access into the main pool, re-tiling the entire facility, and adding a UV secondary disinfectant system.

Additional work, which added to the project cost, includes parking lot/road/exterior lighting, estimated at $400,000, and energy-efficient lighting upgrades inside the facility, estimated at  $200,000.

A spreadsheet that Didier provided in the council agenda for the meeting indicated the Northern Development Initiative Trust is providing $200,000.

The city will save $300,000 in wages and costs because the pool won’t be open during construction and the Kitimat-Stikine regional district, which contributes to operating costs, will save $130,000.

That $430,000 total is to be used to offset project costs. While the city has decided on the figure to be borrowed, the regional district will now be asked to help out given that it already pays for approximately 30 per cent of the aquatic centre’s operating cost.

The regional district meets to consider the matter March 24.

With the project now approved, the aquatic centre is set to close at the end of the day March 18. Projections estimate that construction and associated work will take up to 10 months, and re-opening is planned for early-2018.

More details about the pool upgrade can be found here.

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