The Strathcona Regional District (SRD) Board announced that it has authorized staff to issue a contract to Heatherbrae Builders for phase one of the REC-REATE project. Construction of the new aquatic and wellness centre at Strathcona Gardens Recreation Complex is anticipated to begin in the next several weeks with an estimated completion of early 2027.

The SRD Board authorized staff to issue a contract to Heatherbrae Builders for phase one of the REC-REATE project. Phase one involves constructing the new aquatic and wellness centre, with a total project cost of $69.8 million and a projected duration of 30 months. Issuance of a construction contract is a significant milestone that follows years of extensive planning and community consultation.

The decision to issue the contract to construct phase one was not made lightly by the board as bids came in $22 million higher than anticipated. SRD did an in-depth review and negotiated with trades to find efficiencies, cutting costs by $6.3 million. Despite the significant savings, the project cost remains $15.7 million over the 2023 estimate.

“The SRD Board is so pleased to move this project forward for the community,” said SRD Board Chair Mark Baker. “While the cost of phase one has increased since our most recent estimates, we were not prepared to delay improvements to this vital facility and risk even further cost escalation. We are excited to start construction and enhance wellness opportunities for the entire region.”

Infrastructure cost escalation is happening in communities across Canada. The Board decided to proceed knowing that construction costs continue to rise and labour shortages are delaying projects elsewhere. Other communities in BC, like Tofino, Victoria, North Vancouver, and Burnaby, are currently dealing with comparable challenges with major recreation projects amidst rising construction costs.

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There is sufficient funding within the current tax requisition and borrowing authority to complete phase one of the REC-REATE project, no tax increases will be required. However, the rising cost of construction has created some financial challenges for phase two improvements to the Rod Brind’Amour Arena. Detailed engineering design is currently underway for renovations to the Rod Brind’Amour Arena, and the Board will review cost estimates for phase two later this year to determine funding options and next steps.

The Strathcona Gardens Recreation Complex is a well-loved and vital community asset that is nearly 50 years old and near the end of its operational life.

The new aquatic centre will be built west of the existing facility, between the pool and Dogwood Street.

The 2023 detailed design for phase one, the new aquatic and wellness center estimated a total project cost of $54 million.

Featured image: (Strathcona Regional District)

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