Provided Yellowknife’s planned aquatic centre passes hurdles over the next few years, the city’s largest multi-year capital project is on schedule for completion in the winter of 2023, Yellowknife city council heard last week.
Grant White, director of community services, provided the first update to council in months as to the progress of the project, during the Aug. 24 governance and priorities committee meeting.
In January, city council asked administration to come up with a “design-build construction methodology” for 52-metre and 25-metre lap pool options.
Since that time, the city has been working on transportation studies, environmental site assessments and geo-technical studies related to the project.
Public consultation plans were held up when the Covid-19 pandemic limited the city’s ability to hold in-person sessions, but White said last week that arrangements are now being made to hold public consultations at Shorty Brown Arena from Sept. 21-24.
This will coincide with online feedback, including through the city’s website, which launched a special page earlier in August.
A city-run publicity campaign is also to take place in the coming weeks.
“This will lead the way to the completion of the design plan for council’s consideration, which should be in front of us by November of this year,” White said. “This date is a milestone for the project. If council approves the plan, the project will continue to the next step. If not, work will cease (on) the project.”
If all goes as planned, White said the design-build request for proposals will be done in a year from now.
“The successful design-build team will have a project cost that will then lead to council providing direction to continue or not with a borrowing bylaw and the ultimate referendum.
“If the project continues, the referendum process will take place in the fall of 2021 and if that is successful, the contract will be awarded to the successful team.”
Extending the spending timeline
The project has been in the works since November 2016, when the city accepted a $12.9-million grant from the federal Department of Infrastructure’s Building Canada Fund.
The grant agreement included that the federal government would provide 75 per cent of the cost toward the $49.8-million aquatic centre.
The city would put up the other 25 per cent – a minimum of $4.3 million. This was based on the understanding that the money is accounted for by March 31, 2023. Earlier this year, however, the city requested the federal government extend the deadline to March 31, 2024 due to the pandemic.
“With the situation we’re in and the inability to initially move forward with a public consultation process, we have made a request to have the deadline extended,” White said. “The request was met with favorable response, however, it still needs to be finalized in writing.”
The city would also have to hold a referendum to cover its costs.
Municipal and Community Affairs Minister Caroline Cochrane stated in a June 12 letter to Mayor Rebecca Alty that Infrastructure Canada “is supportive of amending the (funding agreement) to facilitate this requested extension.”
NNSL Media provided the City of Yellowknife, the GNWT Department of Municipal and Community Affairs and the federal Department of Infrastructure with a series of questions on Monday.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.