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Iqaluit’s new aquatic centre building going up this fall

City hoping sealift steel delivery delays won’t hamper construction schedule

By DAVID MURPHY

Pilings for the new aquatic centre in Iqaluit are visible here, with the city hall's exquisite mural behind them. Construction of the main building should begin this fall and will likely obscure views of the mural. (PHOTO BY DAVID MURPHY)


Pilings for the new aquatic centre in Iqaluit are visible here, with the city hall’s exquisite mural behind them. Construction of the main building should begin this fall and will likely obscure views of the mural. (PHOTO BY DAVID MURPHY)

Iqaluit's recreation director, Amy Elgersma, gave city councillors an update July 14 on the status of the city's $40-million aquatic centre, scheduled to open in December 2016. (PHOTO BY DAVID MURPHY)


Iqaluit’s recreation director, Amy Elgersma, gave city councillors an update July 14 on the status of the city’s $40-million aquatic centre, scheduled to open in December 2016. (PHOTO BY DAVID MURPHY)

You’ve seen the pilings, you’ve been waiting… and soon it will appear on the skyline.

Before Christmas, Iqaluit’s new aquatic centre main building will officially get four walls and a roof.

“You’ll actually see a building going up this summer. This is expected to be completed by winter,” recreation director Amy Elgersma told councillors July 14 at a city council meeting.

That’s if all the materials needed for the job arrive on time.

Steel for the building’s main structure is on its way, but the delivery was rescheduled due to an extraordinary and unusual amount of ice in Frobisher Bay this spring.

The steel was supposed to arrive the week of July 15, but its delivery has been pushed back to the week of July 26.

“We’ll just have to see what happens with the ice conditions,” Elgersma told Nunatsiaq News. “I’m hopeful they’ll be able to get the structure up in time.”

But once the steel arrives, the building will go up quickly.

“Kudlik [Construction] will be pouring concrete this fall. We expect a construction shutdown period around Christmas, until the end of February. And the building will be weather tight before the shutdown period,” Elgersma told councillors.

Elgersma gave an overview of the aquatic centre project’s current budget and construction status during her presentation to councillors.

The $40-million aquatic centre is scheduled to be open for swimming December 2016.

Coun. Terry Dobbin, who’s been critical of the aquatic centre since 2012, questioned whether the recreation department’s REACH fundraising campaign to help pay for the recreation centre can hit its $3-million goal.

“We’re sitting at approximately $300,000, and we’ve been here for a while. Is there any progress happening to REACH to alleviate some of the massive tax burden on the taxpayers?” Dobbin asked.

Elgersma said REACH has raised close to $400,000 so far and the campaign is still pursuing large corporations for sponsorships.

And she added that REACH can, in fact, raise $3 million over time.

“I also wanted to mention — that $3-million target, as part of the plan, that money doesn’t necessarily all need to be in by the time the facility opens,” Elgersma said.

“Of course it would be nice. But some of the sponsorship is five-year terms.”

Dobbin also questioned the annual operations and maintenance cost of the building.

The original estimate of $4 million per year for operations and maintenance isn’t exactly true, Elgersma told Nunatsiaq News.

In fact for the first full year of operations in 2017, they’re estimating salaries and benefits, office expenses, and utilities will cost just over $2 million, Elgersma said.

“So originally there was some rougher estimates done, but this was something we really worked on,” Elgersma said.

The city held an energy workshop for the centre during its design phase, which reduced the aquatic centre’s rough estimate.

Elgersma is hoping the new building can use energy from the power plant that already heats buildings in the area, like the hospital, using residual heat from its generators.

“That would take care of about 80 per cent of the heat for the building,” Elgersma said. “We’re still working with QEC on that plan.”

Better insulation, a smaller floor plan and high efficiency boilers should all help to keep annual operation and maintenance costs down.

Also, advertisements, a food and beverage area, Atii fitness gym memberships and operating grants will help provide operating revenues, Elgersma said.

And corporate sponsors such as the World Wildlife Fund, Outcrop Nunavut, Lester Landau, the Rotary Club of Iqaluit and MHPM have helped, Elgersma said.

During her presentation to councillors, Elgersma admitted Iqaluit’s Arctic Winter Games arena doesn’t break even after expenses.

But many recreation facilities in other municipalities across Canada aren’t breaking even either, Elgersma said.

However, the community benefits of such facilities outweigh a red balance sheet at the end of the year, Elgersma said.

“Recreation programs and services help bring community together. They improve quality of life. They can also be an economic benefit, reducing out migration, making sure this city is a livable city for people to come and live and work and enjoy life,” she told Nunatsiaq News.

“Also Iqaluit has a lot of young people. And recreational activity is very important for young people in their development,” Elgersma said.

At city council, Coun. Simon Nattaq questioned whether the pool will be affordable for everyone and not just a private member’s club.

“I hope it doesn’t happen like the curling rink. They said I have to be a member and wouldn’t let me in,” Nattaq said through a translator.

Deputy mayor Romeyn Stevenson agreed programming must be “embraced by the entire community.”

“Because that’s the purpose. That was Coun. Kilabuk’s dream that we had a pool that everyone could use, everyone could access it,” Stevenson said, referring to the late Jimmy “Flash” Kilabuk, a long time city councillor.

“I picture, with it being so close to the high school, some kind of agreement and sharing with the high school to spend time there during the school day for gym classes,” he said.

Elgersma said public consultations on programming will start next year.

“I’m committed to making sure that it’s accessible for the whole community. And I know it’s something I’ve talked about for the past few years and I would like to live up to that,” Elgersma told councillors.

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