The entrance to the Port Hardy aquatic centre. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)

The entrance to the Port Hardy aquatic centre. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)

Port Hardy to ‘revitalize’ old aquatic centre for $8.5 million

‘If everything goes as planned, there will be no tax increase to cover our portion of the costs’

It finally arrived.

Stantec’s updated 2020 report on the condition of the Port Hardy aquatic centre is now in council’s hands, and Port Hardy mayor Dennis Dugas is pleased to announce that the numbers “look favourable.”

The report features updated financial numbers from the original 2015 version, as council needed to know how much it would cost now to repair the old pool so they can start applying for federal and provincial grants.

Dugas confirmed that now that they’ve seen the updated numbers, the district is getting ready to start the alternative approval process (counter petition) for approval to borrow funds from the taxpayers of Port Hardy.

The district will then be ready “to put in for grant applications which will be quite significant,” Dugas said, adding that once the grant process is successful, they will be ready to move forward with the pool revitalization project.

As for the architectural designs and plans that the district spent money on when they were planning to build a new pool, Dugas noted they will be tucked away in a drawer for safe keeping in case Port Hardy continues to grow in size to a point that they can actually afford to build a new pool.

All told, according to Chief Administrative Officer Heather Nelson-Smith, the new pool project’s total cost was $655,939, which was entirely funded through the strategic priorities fund (which she said was paid out from the six million dollar grant the district received at the onset of the project in 2016).

Regarding what the updates to the old pool are going to look like, Dugas confirmed the outside of the building is going to get “a facelift” and it will cost around 8.5 million to fully revitalize the aquatic centre.

According to the district’s website, grants will cover 73.33 per cent of the cost, and then residents will pay 26.67 per cent, which is around 2.3 million dollars.

“If everything goes as planned, there will be no tax increase to cover our portion of the costs,” added Dugas, who continued to stand firm that the indoor pool is for the entire North Island to use and enjoy.

“It’s for the whole region, our entire region uses this pool, so there wasn’t much of a choice. We have to fix it if we want to keep this amenity in the North Island.”

QUICK FACTS ABOUT THE PORT HARDY POOL

Port Hardy’s indoor swimming pool is over 40 years old and requires major upgrading and repair to remain operational.

An overall assessment of the pool was completed in 2015 by Stantec with options that included either repairing the pool or replacing the building entirely.

The District went to the public to seek input on the direction council should consider and the survey results returned 74 per cent in favour of building a new aquatic facility. A referendum (Assent Voting Opportunity) was held Oct. 22, 2016.

The electors of Port Hardy approved the project.

Thanks to tender bids coming in 40 per cent higher than anticipated, the district was forced to go looking for more capital from the provincial government (the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program – Community, Culture and Recreation grant) as the project’s budget had ballooned up to $22.4 million.

The grant funding was then denied, so the district chose to go with revitalizing the old pool.


@NIGazette
editor@northislandgazette.com

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