New rec centre will soon rise

Coun. Jason Coakwell stands just outside the construction site for the new rec centre on Jan. 6.

Coun. Jason Coakwell stands just outside the construction site for the new rec centre on Jan. 6.

The construction site of the new rec centre is in for a very noticeable change soon.

“It will seem like visual progress here right away,” said Coun. Jason Coakwell, the chair of the Don Stewart Recreation Centre Build Committee. “The steel will start going up very quickly here. So there will be some visual changes to the site which will make a big difference to people’s perception of what’s actually happening on site.”

Coakwell said it is anticipated that the workers who will be erecting the pre-engineered building will be on site sometime this week.

“So they probably will start erecting steel the week of Jan. 16 and I would say in roughly four weeks they will have the building up,” he predicted. “So by mid to late February, between now and then, we’re going to have a huge change in the appearance to the site. It will seem to pop up fairly quickly.”

Coakwell said that’s because the building is all pre-engineered.

“It sounds simple, but stand up and bolt and weld together and put the siding on,” he said. “And it will enclose with a roof and siding very quickly. There will be doors and windows and things that have to get sorted out and put in, some of the details, but the building itself – the pre-engineered structure and siding and roof – will go on fairly quickly.”

A good portion of the steel for the building is already on site waiting to be erected.

Coakwell said, while it will look like a building after mid to late February, there will still be a lot of work left to do inside.

“That will be the challenge,” he said. “There will be no big visual changes to the outside because as of February it will appear to be a building and then we’re going to wonder what they’re doing inside there for the next six to eight months. But there’s a lot of work to happen.”

Coakwell said, once the building is up, the inside work will include building walls, doing the plumbing, installing the electrical systems, painting, laying down the slabs for the ice in the arena and curling club, installing refrigeration systems and much more.

“There’s lots and lots and lots of work to do after the building is up,” he said.

Up to now, the work has largely involved groundwork and preparing the foundation.

Coakwell said everyone has noticed what appear to be tents on the site.

“That’s actually shrouding to keep heat in for the foundation, and so they’ve been pouring cement there for several weeks,” he said on Jan. 6. “Now that the cement is almost done and cured enough, they can start the steel erection.”

Coakwell said the work has been moving along.

“It’s been pretty good,” he said. “There were some delays, no doubt. Everybody noticed it seemed like not much going on on the site. There were some delays in the design of the foundations.”

Those design delays on the foundation involved things that no one in the public can see, such as the concrete mix and the shape of the forms, Coakwell explained.

The delays have been mostly made up in the actual fabrication of the foundations, he added. “They would have typically taken longer to maybe do the foundations with a smaller crew, but the design took a little longer so they really poured the resources into actually building the design once it was designed, and got back on track. The net result of it is that the building is scheduled still to be completed for the end of this calendar year.”

The current target is mid-December for substantial completion of the project and for the building to be ready to use and turned over to the town by the main contractor Clark Builders.

“The contractors have all been good,” said Coakwell. “We’re working with them still doing some finer detail design. They’ve been accommodating with requests that we’ve had. It’s been pretty good. It’s just a matter of getting the design 100 per cent finalized.”

Those design changes are nothing major, but are things like the location of a door or a closet, or what types of fixtures are going into washrooms.

Coakwell said he has not been hearing a lot of questions from the public about the project.

“People obviously expect to see more stuff on site and happening on site, and will be excited to see this steel going up,” he said. “But there has been a lot of work going on behind the scenes in design with architects and structural engineers, all the stuff you don’t see physically happening on the site. And under those tents over the last few weeks there has been a lot of work going on and a lot of people working under there.”

In fact, almost 700 cubic metres of cement was poured.

“It’s all down in the ground there,” said Coakwell. “So a little bit of cement yet to pour, and some steel going up hopefully the week of Jan. 16. The site will start to look a lot different.”

–Paul Bickford