Demolition on the Nelson aquatic centre was well underway in November this year.

2015’s top stories No. 8: Pool renovations begin

Long-awaited renovations to the Nelson aquatic centre necessitated a lengthy closure this year.

Long-awaited renovations to the Nelson aquatic centre necessitated a lengthy closure this year, but rather than starting in May the project didn’t get underway until September.

The City of Nelson won a hard-fought compromise to a hurdle that threatened to delay the project in early January, gaining $184,000 and commitments from neighbouring rural areas to look at broadening the tax base for regional recreation by expanding the service area.

In exchange, the city threw its support behind proceeding with the $4.9 million pool renovation. (The city later agreed to hold the money in abeyance until reaching a new funding arrangement.)

Nelson Mayor Deb Kozak emphasized she didn’t want to jeopardize the city’s amicable relations with its regional district partners, but felt “a disproportionate load” of the recreation budget was falling on the city.

“It’s never my intention to throw any other politician or staff under the bus,” she said. “I’m very sensitive to the fact that the city and the regional district must work together. I’m glad we stuck around and hammered it out. We had a really vigorous discussion.”

In April, it was announced that the project had rejected two submitted tenders because both were over budget by at least $1.2 million.

“Although this tender process did not produce a bid that was within budget it is important that taxpayers receive value for money and that the facility meets the needs of the community over the next 40 years,” said Joe Chirico, the regional district’s community services manager.

In May the recreation commission changed course, choosing a construction manager to put the project out for tender in small trade-specific pieces and then coordinate their work, rather than attempting to contract the entire job out to one company.

“This allows for less risk for individual contractors, and we have more control over what they are doing,” said Chirico.

The pool finally closed in September, with a scheduled timeline of 11 months.

“It is a big gulp for the directors to think about closing for almost a year,” said Kozak. But she accepted the expertise of the company hired to manage the project, Unitech Construction Management Ltd.

Asked why the centre will be closed for 11 months when it was previously thought it would be closed for eight, Chirico said “We have had construction experts working on this in detail. That is the time they feel it would take. They said as they move along they hope to shorten it to eight.”

“We have agonized over this,” Kozak said. “As directors we are thinking not just of the immediate future but the long term future of our communities. The Nelson area is growing community, and a pool that will meet those needs into the future is paramount.”

The Star visited in November, when demolition had nearly been completed.

“This stuff was definitely on its last legs, and kudos to the people running this place for limping it through,” project manager Jeff Phillips said. They’re hoping all the work will be done by local contractors. “So far all the work has gone local and we hope that continues.”

Just Posted

Greyhound service cuts decision expected next week

Nelson could see its bus service reduced on Wednesday

Nelson to review city council pay levels

The results would apply to the next council following the municipal election this fall

Petition: reinstate band program at Mt. Sentinel

SD8 superintendent is surveying Slocan Valley students to gauge interest

Logging planned for Cottonwood Lake and Apex areas

The private land to be logged is owned by Nelson Land Corporation headed by Mike Jenks

Polly on the mend after surgery

Dog loses toe, but ‘doing well’

What it means to be human (without a smartphone)

Two LVR teachers take control of phones in the classroom

Nelson Leafs fall to Rebels 4-1

The Leafs open the playoffs next weekend

Nelson speedskater wins two races

Ian Walgren was on the podium at a Special Olympics event

Nelson Nordic Ski Club hosts two races

The Clearwater Challenge and Kootenay Cup both ran last weekend

Five gold medals at provincials for Nelson Boxing Club

Local fighters put on a clinic last weekend

COLUMN: Love in the pages – and on the plate

Check This Out with Anne DeGrace

LETTER: Cannabis Compassion Club optimistic in legal battle with city

The downtown non-profit has been operating since 2000

Canucks came out hot, beat Bruins 6-1

Loui Eriksson scores twice, catapulting Vancouver to a lopsided victory over Boston

B.C. man brings dog to court as ‘best witness’

Man is defending himself on charges of uttering threats, possessing weapon for dangerous purposes

Most Read