After months of delays, unforeseen costs and even a fire, the indoor pool at Strathcona Gardens is scheduled to open at the end of the month.
The pool, which has been closed since last August, will officially re-open on Mon., Feb. 28, with a grand opening planned for Sat., March 5.
“We are only four weeks away from re-opening the facility and the excitement is already building. Many of our patrons are asking when the pool will be open again as they want to get back to their normal exercise regimens,” said Brian Reardon, chief administrative officer for the Strathcona Regional District.
The pool was supposed to open two months ago but was delayed by extra curing time needed for the concrete pool deck.
The ongoing delays have severely impacted the Campbell River Killer Whales Swim Club. The club’s registration has declined from 112 swimmers to 42 and those remaining members are travelling several days a week to train in Comox.
In an e-mail to the regional district, club treasurer Katrina Skuse said the lack of swimmers, coupled with increased travel costs, has almost bankrupted the 30-year-old club.
“What an utter waste of time this has been! I believe that this project has become a total joke to all of the taxpaying residents of Campbell River,” Skuse wrote. “We, as the residents of this town, deserve better. Our kids train and swim in that pool. Don’t they deserve better?”
Reardon said the district recognizes pool user groups have suffered from the pool closure but added the delays were necessary to ensure a quality product.
“In recognition of the hardship incurred the Strathcona Gardens Commission approved a 50 per cent reduction in their spring 2011 user fees. It is hoped this fee reduction will assist those groups in rebuilding their clubs and getting back to a normal training schedule,” said Reardon.
The district is not only having to deal with the backlash from user groups, but is also facing some financial difficulties.
The $1.165 million project went over budget by about five to eight per cent, said Reardon, or roughly $50,000.
“As with many projects on buildings that are 30 years and older there were a number of unforeseen conditions that have resulted in extra costs. Some examples of this include handling and disposing of hazardous materials during the demolition phase of the project, addressing structural deficiencies in the ceilings and walls as well as bringing that part of the facility up to current electrical, building and fire code standards.”
As if all that weren’t enough, Strathcona Gardens staff had to deal with a small electrical fire last week in one of the light ballasts in the pool area.
Reardon said one of the lights was on fire 25 feet above the pool deck but fortunately fire extinguishers in the building were able to put out the fire.
“There was some minor smoke damage along with the loss of one light fixture. Thanks to the quick actions taken by our staff we narrowly missed a significant setback to the pool renovation project,” said Reardon.