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Prince George city council approves more funding for pool and fire hall demolition

Centennial Mosaic to be demolished, Terry Fox statue to be relocated

Prince George city council has approved an additional $2.5 million for the demolition of the Four Seasons Leisure Pool (FSLP) and $1.5 million for the demolition of the old Fire Hall No. 1.

Council has also approved demolishing the Centennial Mosaic Mural in Community Foundation Park next to FSLP and the relocation of the Terry Fox statue.

“I just want to take a moment to address the elephant in the room,” said Coun. Cori Ramsay,  regarding the additional costs noting the overages are because of past capital project management practices.

On Oct. 4 council received a report with 42 recommendations to improve the city’s capital management practices.

“These overages are hopefully some of the last of the old way of doing things and we are working so hard to get there,” added Ramsay, during the Oct. 18 meeting. 

Back in 2019, the Days-Inn was demolished to make way for the construction of the New Downtown Pool.

The demolition project totalled $1,924,943 including extra costs that came from finding unforeseen materials within the building and underground which required additional hazmat and concrete removal.

A $7 million budget funded by the endowment reserve was estimated for the Days Inn land acquisition and demolition when the Downtown Pool Project went to referendum in 2017.

However, this budget was supposed to include the demolition of the FSLP as well.

Now the city has $547,515 remaining of unspent funds which is insufficient to demo the FSLP so with a budget of $3,125,000, the required budget amendment to this project is $2,577,485.

Furthermore, a budget of $1,345,000 is required for the Fire Hall No.1 demolition project also needs to be approved as it wasn’t included in the original project budget for the construction of the new Fire Hall.

After some discussion, council voted to ratify the $7 million cost of the Days Inn Land Acquisition and demolition (a step which had been missed by previous council meetings) with the amended $2, 577, 485 to be included in to the 2021-2025 Financial Plan and be funded by the endowment reserve fund.

Council also voted to approve the addition of the Fire Hall No. 1 Pool Demolition project to the 2021-2025 Financial Plan for a total budget of $1,345,000 also to be funded by the Endowment Reserve Fund.

When it came to a vote Coun. Kyle Sampson, however, opposed.

“Going into the four seasons pool demolition I struggle with that,” said Sampson, stating he wants the pool demolished but can’t support the overages.

“I’m struggling with the regular re-occurrence of addressing decisions that have been made in the past and budgets that were made in the past and not planned for to the best of ability.”

Coun. Garth Frizzell noted that the longer council waits to approve demolition the higher the demolition costs will rise.

“I am going to support it,” said Mayor Lyn Hall. “What we are seeing is unforeseen costs in the demolition of the Days Inn which caused our shortfall. If it is not approved, where do we draw those dollars from?”

Public Art in Community Foundation Park

Another issue that came up was the public art in Community Foundation Park next to the FSLP and the demolition site.

Administration had recommended relocating the Terry Fox statue given the uncertainty of the plans for the current property it stands on; and additional costs that could be incurred to relocate the Terry Fox statue in the future.

Staff said they are working with members of the Terry Fox committee to discuss relocation options.

That park is also home to home to the city’s oldest piece of public art known as the Centennial Mosaic.

However, staff said a relocation of this artwork from its current location would not be feasible due to its structural form and age.

Ramsay noted on a recent tour of the site she learned the mosaic weighed around 120 tonnes.

Lheidli T’enneh Chief Dollen Logan did send a letter to Mayor and Council identifying the mosaic’s historical representation and asking to see it retained.

“It depicts scenes which are an accurate reflection of some of the city’s history in the 1800s and early 1900s,” wrote Logan, asking for the city to consider an appropriate way to ‘save’ the mural.

Staff had suggested taking high-resolution photos of the Centennial Mosaic prior to demolishing for historical significance and community archives.

“Is there going to be a conversation with Chief Logan about the fact that it is virtually impossible to move? But the digital photographs will be taken and hopefully put in some prominent place?” said Coun. Murry Krause.

“I would hate to see digital photographs being taken and put in a file somewhere.”

Mayor Hall agreed that he would have those conversations with Logan at the Lheidli T’enneh offices.

The recommendations to demolish the mural and relocate the Terry Fox statue were then approved unanimously.

Timeline

City staff recommended that the demolition projects are recommended to occur as soon as possible to eliminate ongoing maintenance support costs associated with closed buildings, such as broken windows and maintaining security and public safety.

They stated the FSLP demolition project would begin in early 2022 with the procurement of demolition services and completion in the summer of 2022, followed by remediation in early Fall 2022.

The demolition of Fire Hall No. 1 would start no earlier than late Fall 2022, to allow for continued use of the building as the new pool construction site office.