Three construction companies have been approved to submit design-build proposals for Yellowknife’s new aquatic centre, the latest step in the city’s plan to replace the ageing Ruth Inch Memorial pool.
The city has invited Bird Construction Group, Clark Builders, and PCL Construction Management to submit proposals for the new facility by September 2. Their designs will include a 25-metre, eight-lane lap pool, amusement park-style water slide, leisure pool, splash pad, and lazy river among other amenities.
The companies must submit total costs for the project, with the price guaranteed to hold until January 31.
“I’m very excited that this is continuously moving forward,” Councillor Niels Konge said at a meeting on Monday.
“I think it brings pride to the community,” he added of the project. “I think it is a facility that is enjoyed by everybody … Our pool is a loved facility.”
Once the request for proposals process closes, those proposals will be reviewed and rated by city staff alongside a technical review by Taylor Architecture Group. That’s expected to be completed by the end of September.
City manager Sheila Bassi-Kellett said the two firms whose proposals are not selected will each be given a $140,000 stipend.
How much will the new centre cost?
A 2020 report by Taylor Architecture Group and MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects estimated the new aquatic centre will cost between $52.4 and $63.7 million with annual operating costs of $2.3 to $2.7 million.
The city has been granted $12.9 million in federal funding for the project, to be matched by $4.3 million in municipal funding. As the city will need to borrow money to account for the remainder of the costs, city councillors will have to pass a borrowing bylaw and residents will have their say during a referendum.
Councillors are expected to decide on that bylaw in October with a borrowing referendum slated for late November. A majority of voters will have to support the decision to borrow additional funds for the project to go ahead.
The city plans to launch a public information campaign about the proposed aquatic centre over the coming months, in preparation for the referendum.
Konge noted that whether or not the project is approved, it will still cost the city money. How much either option will cost in total remains unclear.
The city says having one company work under a single contract to both design and build the aquatic centre will be more efficient and ensure that costs are less likely to increase, as the budget will be finalized before construction begins.
Municipal taxes are anticipated to increase by an estimated 2.7 percent in 2024 to offset the costs of construction, maintenance, and operation of the aquatic centre.
If the project is approved, the new centre is expected to open in mid-to-late 2024.