The District of Port Hardy’s swimming pool project has hit another roadblock.
The district issued a statement on July 30, noting the grant funding it had applied for to help cover the majority of the costs of refurbishing the pool has been declined by the federal and provincial governments.
“We have enlisted the services of Stantec Engineering, who are very familiar with our pool to review the leaks and mechanical issues we have been having over the past few years to determine the best approach to our issues,” added the district. “We anticipate knowing the final outcome of the assessments early in September. Staff will then prepare a plan for council to consider to move forward with the much needed repairs. The pool will remain closed until those assessments have been returned and repairs have been completed. Without knowing costs and availability of materials, it is hard to give a timeline, but know we are committed to keeping you informed.”
The statement also noted the swimming pool has three key issues with it; namely, a leaking basin, an aging mechanical system, and a failing dry-o-tron dehumidification system that is not likely to make it through another season.
Refurbishing the pool would have cost around $8.5 million to fully revitalize the entire aquatic centre. According to the district’s website, grants would have covered 73.33 per cent of the cost, and residents would have had to pay 26.67 per cent, which is around $2.3 million dollars.
The Gazette reached out to Port Hardy mayor Dennis Dugas for comment, and he confirmed that council was “very disappointed” the grant funding wasn’t approved.
He noted they received a letter back from the government that basically stated the grant funding was “oversubscribed” and “we weren’t on the list.”
Dugas added council is still determined to keep the North Island’s only indoor swimming pool running, and the taxes that have been collected for the pool since 2016 will be going towards the repairs.
As for whether there will be a tax increase to help pay for the repairs, Dugas said it’s “too early to tell — our goal is not to increase taxes, but it’s really all dependent on how much it costs to get the pool open again.”
QUICK FACTS ABOUT THE PORT HARDY POOL
Port Hardy’s swimming pool is the only indoor pool in the entire North Island. It 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 look 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.
Grant funding to build a brand new pool was denied, so the district chose to go with revitalizing the old pool, which the grant funding for has now also been denied.