DISTRICT OF PORT HARDY PHOTO                                Desgin plans for the Multiplex project.

DISTRICT OF PORT HARDY PHOTO Desgin plans for the Multiplex project.

Port Hardy Council approves construction of the Multiplex project

Goahead given to “phase one” of the process

The District of Port Hardy gave the green light to begin construction on the first phase of the multiplex project.

A Committee of the Whole Meeting was held on March 19 where Port Hardy council had to decide between three different options regarding the future of the multiplex project.

The three options are as follows:

1. To defer the project until more funding is secured;

2. To authorize staff to begin the construction process of the Multiplex project in 2018 with a phased approach; or

3. To begin phase one scaled back to a smaller budget.

Port Hardy Mayor Hank Bood explained phase one of the project includes “The original project that came back from our architects plus one lane” with space for the mezzanine “roughed in”. Phase one is projected to cost $12,750,000, whereas the entire project, which includes the additional features and the demolition of the current pool, is sitting at a projected cost of $14,382,116.

RELATED: Port Hardy multiplex project receives $6,000,000 Gas Tax Fund

“The really good thing about this project is that we can go ahead with the $12,750,000 and fund other stuff later,” said Bood, adding, “For example … the mezzanine, to create a skateboard park, those are standalone projects that we can add to the project we have.”

With the funding the District of Port Hardy has already received, including the $6,000,000 Gas Tax grant, $250,00 from Marine Harvest, and $500,000 from the Community Forest Fund, they would still have to borrow $5,000,000 from the electorate in order to fund phase one.

“If we begin phase one of the construction, the consideration is yes we would have to borrow $5,000,000 from the district and look for ways of paying that back,” said Chief Administrative Officer Allison McCarrick, who also noted each year construction is deferred costs will escalate 10 to 12 per cent, and six to eight per cent for the additional features.

Council also noted the possibility of securing further funding from the province, after a promising conversation with Selena Robinson, who is the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

“As of yet we haven’t got a commitment from the province to be a partner, but after our conversation with the minister yesterday we sent it to staff to further explore those options,” said Bood.“The conclusion of that meeting was that staff was going to get together and see what they could come up with — that is provincial staff and our staff.”

Coun. Dennis Dugas expressed concern for taxpayers and small businesses, stating he was in favour of deferring the project until more funding was actually secured.

“At this particular time I’m not in favour of anything but waiting,” said Dugas. “We need to be a little bit more patient, we don’t have to make a decision today whether we move ahead or not.”

After a brief discussion about timing, Director of Operations Abbas Farahbakhsh noted if council approves the construction process it would be at least three months for the tenders to go out and the contract to be awarded.

“I am optimistic that the provincial government will come on board and that they will find some year-end money that will go into this phase one,” said Coun. Pat Corbett-Labatt, adding, “What I am really impressed with is how many people have stopped me saying ‘I’m so happy that we have got a pool’ and that things are moving forward in this town. “

McCarrick explained they would not decommission the current pool until the new pool was built, which will be constructed near the backside of the Civic Centre. “If it could be seamless, that would be awesome,” said McCarrick.

No councillors expressed interest in the third option of scaling back the project to a smaller budget. All councillors, except Dugas, voted in favour of option two: to begin construction of phase one which includes the four lap lanes and the mezzanine “roughed in”.