Cost to build new recreation centre 35 per cent above pre-tender estimate

Groundbreaking for Prince Albert’s new Aquatic and Arenas Recreation Centre is set to begin next month pending City Council’s consideration of a revised funding plan.

At a Special Executive Committee meeting on June 8, members of Council will consider two reports from the Aquatic and Arenas Steering committee that will recommend awarding the construction tender and a revised funding plan to cover additional expenses.

Due to inflationary pressures driving up costs, the total project price has risen to $113.8 million. This includes all design fees, project management costs, project contingency, equipment and furniture, and $6 million in PST costs. The lowest bid price for construction of the new recreation centre is 35% above the pre-tender estimate for the facility. 

“This is our new reality,” said Wes Hicks, Director of Public Works for the City of Prince Albert. “Construction costs are not going to go down and these are inflationary pressures out of our control.”

The revised funding plan will continue to include no increase in property taxes to fund the new facility. The City will achieve this by reducing the build costs by $7 million through modifying non-functional elements, increasing borrowing to $46 million, securing $24 million in external dollars through provincial and federal fundraising initiatives, and annual financing payments through the Civic Facilities Reserve and targeting property tax revenues from the Yard Development. 

Under the proposed plan, the facility will be built with the same features as originally announced. This includes an 8 lane 25 meter competitive pool, 200 spectator seats, combined leisure, splash and wave pool, lazy river, two water slides and a whirlpool on the aquatics side. 

The arenas side will include 2 NHL size 200 ft x 85 ft rinks, seating for 366 in one rink and 608 in the other rink, player dressing rooms totaling 6,720 square feet and referee dressing rooms totaling 800 square feet.

To accommodate the projected additional borrowing, the recommendation is for the City’s debt limit to increase from $75 million to $120 million. The current per capita debt limit is the 12th lowest in the province out of 16 cities. If the proposed long term debt limit is approved, the City of Prince Albert will be ranked 6th in the province.

“There is no question. We remain committed to getting this recreation centre built and building it with the features that meet the needs of our community,” said Mayor Greg Dionne. “We need to move ahead with this project. It took us years to secure this kind of funding. If we delay now, we will lose the opportunity and it will never be built.”

“The funding plan for this project meets the needs of our community without tax increases during this time of high inflation,” added Mayor Dionne. “This project is overdue. Our existing facilities are over 45 and 55 years old.”

Executive Committee recommendations if approved will be forwarded to the next City Council meeting on June 20, 2022 for final consideration and groundbreaking will start in July.

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