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Downtown pool nearly $2.9M over budget

Canfor to buy naming rights for $75K per year
Canfor Leisure Pool
Construction of the new pool downtown is 84 per cent complete, according to a report going to city council on Monday.

The new aquatic centre under construction downtown is an estimated $2.876 million over budget, according to a report going before city council on Monday.

The cost overruns bring the total cost of the pool up to $39.126 million, up from the initial $35 million budget, city director of civic operations Blake McIntosh wrote in his report. In 2018, voters approved borrowing the $35 million in a referendum vote.

A $750,000 contribution by the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George, and a decision by city council to include a $500,000 Ninja Cross obstacle course, brought the project budget up to $36.5 million.

“Roughly two-thirds ($1.7 million) of these costs are attributed either directly or indirectly to the steel primer deficiency,” McIntosh wrote. “As reported to council last July ($1 M in cost estimate at that time), following the delivery of structural components to the work site, it was determined that the primer was specified in error and would require significant remediation work. Importantly, administration is seeking compensation to reduce the overall primer remediation cost overrun. The $1.7 million attributed to the steel primer deficiency includes the primer remediation costs incurred to date, plus a contingency for future potential expenses including cost recovery. This total is subject to potential recovery.”

Another $1.1 million in cost overruns are linked to “external material or labour cost escalations for items such as wood, A/V equipment, painting, and signage, and unforeseen conditions such as unsuitable soils and existing piping beneath the pool tanks,” McIntosh wrote.

“Original cost estimates for the project are from 2017. Since that time, with the impact of the pandemic and labour shortages, construction costs have escalated substantially,” McIntosh wrote.

According to the Industrial Product Price Index, published by Statistics Canada, the cost of construction rose by 20 per cent in 2021 and has been rising at five per cent per month for the last three months, he added.

City administration has found $373,400 in savings on the project, and the federal government gave the city a $10 million grant towards the project. As a result, the net cost to city taxpayers is estimated at $28.376 million, McIntosh wrote.

With the pool project 84 per cent complete, and expected to be finished in late summer, the city has spent $28.3 million so far on the new aquatic centre.


Also on Monday night, city council will be asked to consider entering into a five-year naming rights agreement for the new aquatic centre.

Under the proposed deal, Canadian Forest Products Ltd. would pay the city $75,000 per year for five years for the naming rights of the pool. When the deal ends on May 8, 2027, Canfor and the city would have the option to extend the deal an additional five years at the same rate.

“The agreement would allow the city to enter into a strategic partnership with a well-known local corporate citizen that is responsible for employing a significant number of residents and that aligns with promoting our local forestry economy,” city manager Walter Babicz wrote in a report to council.

If city council approves the agreement, the new aquatic centre will be called the Canfor Leisure Pool. The new pool is being built to replace the now-closed Four Seasons Leisure Pool.

Under the deal, Canfor would pay for the design and construction of all naming signage at the new pool, which must be delivered by July 22.

Canfor also retains the right to install a digital sign at the facility, with the city and Canfor sharing use of the display on a 50-50 basis.


The city will need to hire roughly 30 additional employees to operate the pool, including lifeguards, cashiers and maintenance staff. Recruitment is expected to start this month, city director of recreation and events Andy Beesley wrote in a third report going before council on Monday.

Once construction in completed in the summer, Beesley estimated two weeks would be needed for training and to prepare the facility before a “soft launch” opening with limited access, followed by an official grand opening.

Once fully operational, the pool is expected to have similar hours to the former Four Seasons Leisure Pool – open from 9 a.m. to 8:15 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m on weekends.

The NinjaCross course will be open limited hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, because the six lane 25-metre pool must be closed to other users when the course is in use.

The pool will also be used for aquafit classes and swimming lessons, Beesley wrote. And the facility will be available for private party rentals, event hosting, school bookings and other events.

“The new pool will distinguish itself from the Aquatic Centre by the pool amenities and programs being offered encouraging customers to use both pool facilities regularly,” Beesley wrote. “Review of pool visits and program usage will occur regularly allowing for operational adjustment to ensure the highest levels of service while operating in a cost efficient manner.”