The City of Yellowknife might get an extension from the Government of Canada on the 2022 deadline to spend the federal contribution toward a new aquatic centre.
In 2016, the federal government, through the Building Canada Fund, committed to provide $12.9 million toward the $49.8 million aquatic centre with the condition that the city must spend that money by the end of 2022.
Senior administrative officer Sheila Bassi-Kellett replied, “We have a letter from the Government of the Northwest Territories, that is a conduit for the Building Canada Fund, that has said that they anticipate that there should be approval for an extension for the time frame for us to be able to use this.”
In a June 12 letter, Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) Minister Caroline Cochrane states that Infrastructure Canada “is supportive of amending the (funding agreement) to facilitate this requested extension.”
Cochrane’s letter did not definitively state that the federal government will extend the deadline, however.
“Given existing circumstances, Infrastructure Canada cannot provide a complete assurance of program extension until the (final agreement) is amended and signed by both parties,” Cochrane states in the letter. “However, at this time, both parties can provide the City of Yellowknife a positive conditional response to its request. At such time confirmation of ministerial approval from both parties is received and confirmed in a signed amending agreement, the extension will be formally processed.”
Morgan said the government’s response appeared to be positive that the deadline will be extended.
“Many of us are pretty invested with the new aquatic centre but I think it will be helpful to get an extension,” she said. “There has been a lot going on with Covid, but even before that we have been trying to get the right options nailed down so that we can have a balance between having the best facility that is affordable with the current economic realities.”
Coun. Robin Williams, said, as a “very pro-pool” councillor, that the update was good news because even since the beginning of the term the deadline has been very tight for the city.
“The report back today (Monday), I think was a positive indication that there would be an extension to the funding pot,” Williams said. “It would mean not the same time frame that had initially been planned. I think it is a good thing overall that we can keep the project alive.”
In May, Bassi-Kellett told council that the next step in moving the project forward is holding public consultations to decide whether residents want a 25-metre or 50-metre pool. Those consultations have been held up by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Other aspects of the project that the city is moving forward include the design-build construction methodology and developing the design aspects for both the 25 m and 50-metre options, to confirm costs. The city is also doing geotechnical work on potential sites, working on a transportation study and an environmental assessment.
The Yellowknife Aquatic Centre remains the biggest capital project planned for the coming years.
The city has spent more than $5 million since the project began and expects to go to a referendum to borrow money, depending on the yet-to-be-completed final design.