Rebuilt recreation centre will cost $21.3 million plus

illustration courtesy of Clark Builders This artist's impression shows what a rebuilt Don Stewart Recreation Centre might look like.

illustration courtesy of Clark Builders
This artist’s impression shows what a rebuilt Don Stewart Recreation Centre might look like.

A new number has finally been put to the cost of rebuilding the Don Stewart Recreation Centre.

At a special meeting on June 16, town council approved a motion to enter into a letter of acceptance with Clark Builders of Yellowknife to rebuild the centre for $21,310,717.

While that will be the payment to the builders, the town also anticipates extra expenses such as legal fees and contingencies of about $1 million.

Prior to the vote by council, Ian Frankton, the town’s director of recreation, explained the letter of acceptance is a legal document that solidifies the relationship between the town and Clark Builders so materials like structural steel can begin to be purchased to start the project in a timely manner and fencing can be erected.

“There still needs to be a contract signed off after the letter of acceptance,” Frankton said, explaining a contract will contain more detail on design.

“We still have to work within our design. The footprint will be the footprint as discussed with Clark Builders, but any new initiated changes would come back to council and would be ratified by council,” he said, adding design changes will be within the established budgetary constraints.

Deputy mayor Donna Lee Jungkind said there is no intent to change the price in final contract negotiations with Clark Builders but there’s still room to move on layout and design.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean that’s going to change the cost of the project,” she said. “It just means there’s opportunity to change what’s there. The footprint would not change. However, the layout could possibly change.”

The plan is that the teardown of the rec centre, except for the relatively-new swimming pool, will begin on July 2.

The vote to sign the letter of acceptance was not unanimous – four councillors were in favour, while Coun. Keith Dohey and Coun. Steve Anderson were opposed.

Dohey previously stated his opposition to the project is based on the fact renovation, not rebuilding, was presented to residents in advance of a plebiscite last fall on borrowing money to help pay for the work.

Anderson voted against the motion for a different reason.

“I really feel that the arena should be in a different location,” he told The Hub after the meeting, explaining that for the growth and development of the community, a new rec centre should be built in the area of the new health centre.

While Anderson admitted it is too late now to change things, he would have liked to have received a cost estimate on building in the alternate location.

“I would have been more comfortable finding out what the actual cost is to build the facility over there,” he said.

Anderson is still pleased the project will be a new development and not a renovation.

“So I’m happy about that,” he said. “But I think for the future of our town I don’t think that we’re making the wisest decision.”

Earlier this year, council set a target of $19.2 million for the rec centre project in its capital plan.

Prior to voting on the letter of acceptance, councillors discussed what could be removed from the capital plan for the next two years to find the extra money for the $21.3 million cost of construction and the estimated $1 million for expenses such as legal fees and contingencies.

It was decided that $1.7 million allotted for sidewalks and roads would be removed, $400,000 would not be spent on realigning sewer and water lines, and an extra $1 million would be borrowed.

In the plebiscite in the fall, residents approved borrowing up to $15 million for the rec centre project.

However, a business plan later set the borrowing at $10 million, which will now be increased to $11 million.

“There are some things that we’re moving around in our capital plan that we can make room for this project that is under the projected $24 million that we initially brought to the public,” said Jungkind, referring to the estimated cost of the project from last fall. “We’re going through this process so that we can move forward with the project. We do know that we do have some more pots of money out there that we have to apply for and work towards getting. And then we also know that we need to have a fundraising committee struck because there are some opportunities to fundraise locally for the facility.”

The target to have a new rec centre substantially complete is Oct. 20, 2017.

–Paul Bickford