Pool Needs ‘Tip of Iceberg’ In City’s Aging Infrastructure
Prince George, BC – The consultants behind a comprehensive reporting looking at the city’s aging aquatic facilities and future needs are recommending both pools remain open, but the price tag attached to that proposal is an estimated 62.3-million dollars.
While Prince George City Council will not be taking ‘the plunge’ anytime soon, the report, once again, highlights serious aging issues with many of the city’s major facilities.
Mayor Lyn Hall noted that decisions will have to be made in the not-too-distant future to address more immediate needs – with a roof replacement at Four Seasons recommended by 2018 at a cost of $1.5-million, and repairs involving the roof and exterior of the Aquatic Centre coming in at an estimated $2-million dollars.
The consultants, Dialog Design and Counsilman-Hunsaker (Aquatics for Life), presented City Councillors with four options at last night’s meeting, but recommended replacing the Four Seasons pool with a new facility at an estimated cost of almost $33-million dollars and almost $30-million in major renovations at the Aquatic Centre, including: a new eight lane swim tank, the addition of spectator seating for 1500, additional family change room space, and an expanded fitness centre.
Dialog Design Associate Architect, Doug Wournell, said the consultants heard repeatedly from users and stakeholders that they wanted to keep the two pools. In response to a question from Councillor Albert Koehler, Wournell said gauging the users’ appetite for a tax increase to pay for the upgrades was outside the report’s scope. “The only thing I could add is at the public open house, the majority of the people…were seniors: typically, the least-likely people to want to take more money out of their pockets, and they were very much in support of the project to do both facilities.”
“What you’re (Koehler) suggesting is definitely your next step,” Wournell added.
Councillor Jillian Merrick said the report is timely with public input sessions set for next month. “Now, residents can come out to Talktober and tell us what they think, tell us what they think about spending this kind of money on these kind of valued facilities.” Merrick pointed out that Vanderhoof just announced it will build a new pool for $12-million dollars. “So, where there’s a will, there’s a way,” she said. “ I think the community just needs to come out and tell us what that will needs to be and there’s lots of opportunity between now and the next few years of capital planning to do that.”
Mayor Lyn Hall said there has been a lot of talk over the past several years about the city’s infrastructure needs both above and below the ground. “I think that this is really the tip of the iceberg, you’ve (the consultants) sent the message tonight that will confirm that we do have some real problems with our major facilities in this community,” said the mayor.
Hall pointed to the main firehall which is 60-years-old, the Coliseum, which isn’t too far behind, and the Elks Centre.
Council referred the report to City staff for further review and recommendations on possible next steps and the costs associated.