The Nelson and District Recreation Commission has come up with a new approach to the renovations of the aquatic centre. They will use a different contracting system from the one that recently ended with no result because all bids came in over budget.
This time they will hire a construction manager who will put the project out for tender in small trade-specific pieces and then coordinate their work, rather than attempt to contract the entire job out to one company.
“For example,” says the RDCK’s Joe Chirico, “you might have a specialized contract just for the pool equipment and mechanical pieces that relate to the functioning of the pool,” rather than having one contractor doing all mechanical aspects of the project.
“This allows for less risk for individual contractors, and we have more control over what they are doing,” he told the Star. He said every contractor builds in a price for risk and they are hoping to remove that by offering multiple smaller contracts.
A report released by the commission this month (attached below) analyzes the reasons for the gap between budget and bids, and concludes that the largest cost saving could be achieved by this change in the method of contracting.
The construction manager will be hired this month and will be on the job by the end of June. It will be the manager’s job to decide on the order and pacing of the individual tenders, so the construction start date at this point is uncertain.
A commission’s report states that the main disadvantage of the new construction management method is that the final price will not be known until all the contracts are awarded. But Chirico says the flexibility involved in having multiple smaller contracts will allow for adjustments in cost and design as the project proceeds.
The work is expected to take eight months, and will include renovations and upgrades to mechanical systems, electrical panels and equipment, lifeguard station, sauna, pool decks, tiles and water-proofing membranes.
“Public pools are complicated,” says Chirico. “You have highly complex mechanical systems: the air handling system, all the pipes and the turnover that you have to do in the pool to make sure your pool water is clean, and they are interrelated, that is what makes it complex, especially when you are doing a renovation on a pool built in the 1970s. Pools are highly regulated by the BC building code and by other safety authorities, and by the IHA health inspector, so it requires many different levels of approval and so the work needs to meet the new standards that are present today that were not in 1970.”
Reflecting on the nearly 50-year age of the pool, Chirico says, “This pool really owes us nothing. It has done its life. It is at the end of its life span.”
Chirico points out that a public pool is used by a larger range of people than any other recreational facility or program, from swimming lessons for very young children to exercise programs for the elderly, and therefore the effect of an outdated facility, and of a closure, is felt by a large cross-section of the population.
The budget for the project is $4.92 million with borrowing not to exceed $4.5 million.
The decision of the recreation commission described above has still to be approved by the regional district board. The members of the recreation commission are Area E representative Ramona Faust (chair), Nelson mayor Deb Kozak, Nelson councillors Valerie Warmington and Janice Morrison, and rural area F representative Tom Newell.