Downtown is about to look a lot different as construction starts on Prince George’s newest pool.
Ground was broken on the downtown pool project this morning (July 29) with a COVID-19 friendly ceremony.
Site preparation and excavation began earlier this month on the new pool, which will be 3,588 sq. metres and located on Seventh Avenue between Dominion and Quebec Streets.
HDR Architecture and Chandos Construction are leading the design and construction process with the pool expected to open in late 2022.
The project is budgeted to cost $42 million: $35 million for pool design and construction, and $7 million for the acquisition of the site and demolition operations.
The federal and provincial governments are providing $10 million in funding support from the Community, Culture and Recreation Infrastructure Stream of Investing in Canada Plan – it’s the largest federal/provincial investment in Prince George infrastructure in about a decade.
“Council is very pleased and excited to see construction starting on this new downtown landmark. Together with the architect, city staff used input from user groups to create a modern energy-efficient and accessible facility which will help the city to serve the aquatics needs of residents for years to come,” says Mayor Lyn Hall.
He says there’s been discussion about a new pool project for the last decade, but council started to look more seriously at the project four years ago.
“We went to referendum with this and the Fire Hall and the referendum results were about 62 per cent in favour and so here we are today. It’s had a long history,” says Hall, adding the city delayed construction until grant funding could be secured.
“We couldn’t start construction before that process was done and I’m glad we didn’t or we wouldn’t have ended up receiving it.”
The new pool will be attractive and accessible, with aquatic activities available for all ages and abilities:
- A six-lane, 25-metre lap pool
- A four-lane, 25-metre teaching pool with warmer water and shallow depth
- A leisure pool with a lazy river, beach entry, and play features
- A large water slide with a run-off lane
- Dedicated male and female change rooms, as well as large universal change room
- Sauna steam room
- Rooms for lessons and training
The new pool is expected to draw many people to the downtown, including visitors from outside of Prince George.
“The Regional District of Fraser-Fort George is pleased to commit $750,000 to support this new facility. We know residents from throughout our region will enjoy the new pool as part of their recreational and leisure pursuits,” says Art Kaehn, Chair of the RDFFG.
The entire facility has been designed with a particular eye for safety and accessibility.
For example, the pool tanks will feature shallow entries and “pool pod” to provide people with mobility devices to enter. The facility will also have much-improved sightlines for lifeguards to increase safety for patrons and the change rooms will open onto the shallowest ends o the pools to decrease the likelihood of falls into deep water.
“I feel that the work City Staff and the architect have done in designing the new pool has really raised the bar in regards to how buildings can and should be built in order to make them accessible to everyone,” says Chris Gobbi, Chair of the city’s Accessibility Committee.
“The project team met with the committee multiple times, and time they came, they had updated drawings that incorporated the suggestion we had made previously. We really appreciate being heard and we can’t wait to see the results of our work together. The whole community will be proud.”
The new pool will be connected to the city’s downtown renewable energy system (DRES) which provides heat sourced from wood waste at Lakeland Mills.
As far as the future of the Four Seasons Leisure Pool and the old Fire Hall No. 1 site, Hall says those buildings will probably come down in about two-and-a-half years.
“This is a great corner and there is a lot of options for it and the council of the day will have some fun decisions to make on the development and what that looks like but we haven’t had any conversations about it yet.”
Both the Four Seasons Leisure Pool and the Prince George Aquatic Centre are currently closed due to COVID-19, but the city will reopen the Aquatic Centre in September.