DISTRICT OF PORT HARDY PHOTO The multiplex building as envisioned by architects hired by the District of Port Hardy.

Port Hardy Mayor Dennis Dugas says district is not backing out of multiplex project

The district will be holding a multiplex open house session Jan.29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Civic Centre.

Interested in finding out what’s going on with Port Hardy’s multiplex project?

The District of Port Hardy will be holding an open house session on Jan.29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Civic Centre where you can be brought up to speed on the project via a powerpoint presentation and ask questions after.

Port Hardy Mayor Dennis Dugas recently sat down with the North Island Gazette for an interview about the open house, noting the district’s powerpoint presentation will “bring everybody up to speed, and it will go back to 2016 when we first started getting it all put together before the referendum.”

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, and the District started looking to pursue grant funding for 2/3 of the $12,000,000 project.

After receiving $6,000,000 from the Gas Tax Fund, $50,000 from the Regional District of Mount Waddington, and a $250,000 donation from Marine Harvest, the district was ready to put the project out for tender.

However, due to the bids coming back 40 per cent higher than expected, the district then decided to pause and reevaluate the project.

When asked if he was surprised by how high the bids came in, Dugas stated the district was “actually very disappointed by the way it came out, but there’s a lot of things to take into consideration – our dollar is really low and that has a big impact on it, plus there’s some extra taxes that have been put on with regards to products coming out of the states.”

Dugas gave rebar as an example, stating the cost for it has gone up 30 per cent.

Chief Administrative Officer Allison McCarrick confirmed no local North Island businesses bid on the project, which Dugas thinks is because “it’s a project that is pretty large, there’s a lot of different aspects that local people don’t have the manpower to be able to take on a project that large, and it’s a specialized project (swimming pool).”

As for what the project may look like now that the bids came in 40 per cent higher than anticipated, Dugas stated that as of right now, “we are going to end up with a new aquatic centre with some amenities, but certainly not to the extent we were hoping. When we first started talking about it, we were talking about a multiplex that would encompass a lot of things. We talked about having things for seniors, we talked about finishing off the skateboard park and developing something with regards to that, but once we started putting it all together with the monies we had available and the monies we could borrow through the referendum, we had to start cutting a lot of things out of the project to make it happen … It’s all going to be dependent on what comes back from the grant applications — if you’re going to borrow six million dollars, that’s a lot of money, we have to pay that debt off, so if we can get more stakeholders involved in the process it will be a lot better for the taxpayers of Port Hardy.”

Above all else, Dugas wants residents to come out to the open house and “be a part of what’s happening in our community so we can get them up to date to where we are at, and hopefully give them some insurance that we are certainly not backing out of the project.”

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