The president of a local swim club was “disappointed and upset” to learn both bids for the renovation of the Nelson aquatic centre were over budget and the project won’t proceed on schedule.
Paul Cowan of the Nelson Neptunes also told 103.5 Juice FM that the project should be pared back so that it can still be completed by the end of the year.
“Not to mince words, I think it shows a lot of incompetency,” he said. “It seems the whole thing from the get-go has been dogged by setbacks and lack of information and consultation. They’ve had their heads buried in the sand the whole time.
“All of a sudden they get a dose of reality with the bids and it’s the users and user groups that are affected, not to mention their own staff.”
However, Cowan said he’s not yet sure how the project’s delay will affect the club. The upgrades were expected to begin in May and last eight months, which would have covered the Neptunes’ entire competitive season, which runs May 1 to Aug. 23. The club made alternate arrangements to use the Salmo pool, which has a smaller capacity. Cowan said they haven’t been recruiting swimmers as a result.
“Now we may be swimming in Nelson but don’t have enough swimmers to pay for the Nelson pool, which is quite a bit more expensive. At this point most kids have decided what they’re doing for the summer.”
That said, using the Nelson pool for a while longer benefits the club by reducing travel expenses: “We’ll happily take what they’ll give us, as long as we can negotiate pricing. Based on the budget we have we can’t afford to swim in Nelson, unless we have more swimmers.”
Cowan said he wasn’t surprised the bids came in well over budget, and argues not everything on the to-do list is necessary. While he wants to see renovation happen, he’d like a pared-back project that would see the aquatic centre close July 1 and reopen January 1, all within the original budget of $4.9 million.
The Regional District of Central Kootenay rejected both tenders, which were more than $1 million over budget, but hasn’t yet determined exactly why. Originally a dozen companies were interested in bidding.
A decision on how the project will proceed is expected when the recreation commission meets Monday.