The federal government has granted the Nelson and District Aquatic Centre renovation project $4.6 million. That means taxpayers will not be on the hook to repay a loan that was planned to fund most of the $5.2 million project.
“We will not be borrowing to complete this project and we will have some money to put into maintenance and to fund a future reserve, so the building can be kept up to standard into the future,” said regional recreation commission chair Valerie Warmington, who is also a Nelson city councillor. She was speaking to the media at a Regional District of Central Kootenay press conference today at the pool, to which attending politicians and regional district staff brought an air of jubilation and disbelief.
“Our community is thrilled and very grateful to accept this grant. Yay!” said Nelson mayor Deb Kozak, who also sits on the recreation commission. “Our commitment to renewing infrastructure is clear, but the costs of these projects are daunting. This grant will not only relieve that pressure but allow us to include some design elements that will make this facility resilient long into the future.”
Pictured, from left: Councillor Valerie Warmington and Mayor Deb Kozak of the recreation commission learn about the project construction from project manager Jeff Phillips and site superintendent Sam Anderson.
Those design elements are a number of features that were taken out of the original plans because they were deemed too expensive. The main one, explained project manager Jeff Phillips, is an air recovery unit.
“Instead of exhausting all this hot air to the atmosphere,” he said, “we can recover it and bring it back in, to heat pool water or heat whatever we want. We can recover more heat and that makes it more self sustaining.”
He said the heat recovery unit will cost about $500,000 to purchase and install, and that the announcement of the grant is timely: any later and it would have been too late to install the unit.
Other elements that had been rejected but which now can be included include new wall tile and an upgraded diving board.
Phillips explained that another notable feature of the new pool will be a ventilation system that will remove chlorine from the air.
“A grant of this size is unheard of in this area,” said Kozak, who explained that the grant came from the federal government’s Gas Tax Fund, and that the grant application was made by the staff of the Regional District of Central Kootenay in the early stages of the project planning.
Without the grant, the tax burden for the renovations would have been borne through taxation based on property assessments in the City of Nelson, Area F (the North Shore from Kokanee Park to Bonnington) and the west part of Area E (Blewett). The recreation commission is comprised of members from those three locations.
The grant will cover all but $723,000 of the cost of the project, which the regional district will cover without borrowing.
Phillips said the completion date is still September, 2016, and he said the public’s reaction, when they enter the new pool, will be, “‘Wow!’ because they will see it is so much more modern, and the flow is so much better. People will be impressed that we did this from this old building.“