Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff Roy van der Sluis, president of the Masters Swim Club, wants to seen construction of a new aquatic centre before 2025.

Red Deer city council pushes back deadline for aquatic centre report by a year

Project supporter still wants contruction to be moved up to 2022

The new aquatic centre is too important to be rushed, decided Red Deer city councillors.

Monday, council pushed back by a year the deadline for the completion of a consultant’s report outlining options for a new aquatic centre.

But this didn’t discourage a proponent of the project from hoping the 50-metre pool and dive tank can get built before the slated date of 2025, however.

”The aquatic community does not want to wait that long,” said Roy van der Sluis, president of the Masters Swim Club. He wants construction to begin by 2022 — even though city council’s opted Monday to delay the deadline for the consultant’s report to June 2020.

Council had expected to hire a consultant this spring to come up with various pool and costing options by the end of September — just in time for discussions of the 2020 capital budget.

But the city’s Recreation, Parks and Culture manager Shelley Gagnon cautioned this timing would be very tight. Consultants must have community discussions to come up with a full array of options for council to choose from, she added.

Gagnon feared either few people would bid on the project, or bidders would charge a lot to compensate for the short time frame, or might do a rush job and only focus on a few aquatic centre options.

Council decided the major recreation project was too “major” to risk a rush job. Rather than deliberating on the project options as part of the 2020 capital budget, councillors decided to discuss them for the 2021 capital budget.

Acting city manager Tara Lodewyk said once the centre’s parameters are decided, another year will be needed for detailed design work (she suggested the design be done within two years of construction to prevent cost overruns).

Lodewyk confirmed the aquatic centre is still in line for a 2025 construction start.

But while van der Sluis agreed with providing more time for the consultant’s report, he did not want to wait until 2025 for building to begin.

As a taxpayer, van der Sluis said he welcomes various costing options. But he’s concerned the Michener Centre pool could close, or the aging outdoor pool could break down before a new competition-level aquatic centre is built — “and then what do we do?”

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