The Nelson and District Aquatic Centre will not be closing on May 1 as planned. On Wednesday, the Regional District of Central Kootenay made the announcement after it rejected two submitted tenders because both were over budget by at least $1.2 million.
The regional district’s CAO Stuart Horn said the high bids did “catch them off guard” because prior to going to tender, the RDCK consulted with an external design team and a quantity surveyor to estimate the cost of the project.
“We don’t know where the gap was in the tenders as typically they are not itemized until a bid is accepted or are in the negotiations of acceptance,” said Horn.
He said there will be a pool closure, but he doesn’t know when.
A regional district press release acknowledges that NDCC Aquatic Centre Renewal Project did include factors which could result in a higher bid such as project complexity, perceived level of risk, the one-of-kind nature of a project, and remoteness of location compared to other commercial construction projects out for tender.
Horn said the lowest bid was from a Castlegar company.
Over the next three weeks the regional district will meet with the design team and will report to the regional recreation commission on April 27. Discussions will include how the regional district can “go back to tender and be a bit more solid with the numbers.”
Until then, the regional district does not expect to have any more information about a revised timeline for the project.
Recreation commission chair Ramona Faust said the commission is committed to the project.
“We also know everything in the scope of the project is necessary, and we will do what it takes to ensure we have good value for our investment,” said Faust.
Horn said they are working individually with the affected aquatic centre employees on what plans they had already made for May 1, trying to work around that as much as they can.
Joe Chirico, the regional district’s community services manager said, “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.”
In January, recreation commission and regional district board approved a $4.92 million budget with borrowing not to exceed $4.5 million for all renovations which the district called “critical upgrades”.
The entire aquatic centre is expected to be closed for eight months once renovations begin. This includes the leisure, lap and teaching pools, steam room, whirlpool and sauna. The pool change rooms will be closed intermittently during the shutdown. The arena, fitness area, meeting rooms and offices will remain open.