Architect and construction manager chosen for new pool

Two firms with extensive experience in designing and building the facilities are teaming up to build the new leisure pool downtown.

Representatives of HDR l CEI Architecture Associates Inc. and Chandos Construction were in Prince George this week to get a look at the site and get a sense of what stakeholders are expecting out of the facility, which will replace the aging Four Seasons Leisure Pool.

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Details on the design are still being fleshed out, but Mark Hentze, HDR's vice president recreation, culture and community said the plan is to build a pool that stands apart and noted a visit to the Wood Innovation and Design Centre was part of their itinerary.

"I think the most important way that this project will be successful is that it's not just a swimming pool that can be plunked anywhere," Hentze said. "This'll be a swimming pool that people can say 'that's the one that's in Prince George. What that means just yet we don't know but we do know that wood will be factored into it."

Bringing Chandos on early in the process has some advantages, local media were told during a midday event Thursday at the corner of Quebec Street and Seventh Avenue, where the new pool will be built.

"Collaboration with the design team so early on is what every construction manager wants," said Dominic Ries, Chandos' technical solutions director. "We want to have that ability to have that discussion of what makes the best sense in getting in the ground and constructibility."

That the site is on the flood plain will be taken into account. It will likely mean the pool will be at least partially above ground - flood water can "pop" a pool bottom if it rises high enough - while also taking accessibility into consideration.

"If you look across the street to the Four Seasons pool, this pool is not universally accessible because of all the stairs," Hentze said.

Recent projects for HDR include the Delbrook Recreation Centre in North Vancouver and a waterpark in Aldergrove that's also Canada's first year-round outdoor pool. Reis said he specializes in building pools and arenas.

"I travel around the country building those," he said.

In all, $42 million has been budgeted for the project with $35 million to be borrowed. The City has also applied to secure as much as $10 million in funding from the federal and provincial governments for the project. If the application is successful, it will reduce the amount to be borrowed for the work.

Design work will occupy most of the year with construction to start sometime in 2020. The Days Inn will be torn down in the process and a new hotel built in an adjacent spot. Sixth Avenue between Dominion and Quebec Streets was closed last week to make way for that project.

Keeping the work within budget is "our job," Hentze said and noted some projects in the Lower Mainland have been put on hold because the costs "ballooned out of control."

Ries said one of Chandos' roles is to provide the "checks and balances."

"We are in charge of the budget, we are in charge of the schedule," he said.

Design work will occupy the rest of this year with construction to start sometime in 2020.

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