Corner Brook swimmers anxious to see work start on new recreation centre

·3 min read
This concept picture of the new regional recreational centre shows what it may look like in summer 2023. (submitted by The City of Corner Brook  - image credit)
This concept picture of the new regional recreational centre shows what it may look like in summer 2023. (submitted by The City of Corner Brook - image credit)

Swimmers in Corner Brook are worried the new regional recreation centre in western Newfoundland may be delayed and cost more than originally thought.

"We are just anxious to get moving and see some work start on the new facility," said Lori Garland, executive member for the Corner Brook Rapids Swim Club.

The $25-million recreation centre is slated to open in the summer of 2023. While the design build was awarded to Pomerleau Inc. for a maximum of $22,293,007 at the last council meeting, council did not approve the land lease agreement with Memorial University to house the new centre on Grenfell campus.

Without the land lease agreement, contractors can't move forward on the design build.

There's also a looming deadline for a re-evaluation on committed pricing.

"They held pricing for a while, " said Mayor Jim Parsons.

"They can't hold pricing forever. There have been some escalation of costs already, upwards of 5 per cent. We are looking to get this done before Jan. 15."

Colleen Connors/CBC
Colleen Connors/CBC

Parsons says the delay is just bureaucratic details about the wording of the agreement, and he is confident council and Memorial University will have the land lease agreement approved soon. That may require a last minute council meeting this week.

"We would like to see all parties push to get that done as fast as possible," said Garland.

Competitive swimmers are currently fighting for pool time in Deer Lake while the Arts and Culture Centre Pool in Corner Brook is closed for maintenance for the next couple of weeks.

Fighting for pool time

Since the 40-year-old pool on Grenfell campus closed in 2016 due to the high cost of much-needed restoration work, swimmers of all levels have been fighting for pool time at the one, also dated, facility in the city.

"We are struggling to get equal hours in the pool similar to other clubs that we then have to compete against. It makes it difficult sometimes," said Garland.

Colleen Connors/CBC
Colleen Connors/CBC

Varsity competitive swimmer Nathan Flynn recently travelled to Mount Pearl for a swim meet, where he quickly learned his competitors are getting a lot more practice time.

"I talked to a bunch of people from other teams and they are swimming nine, maybe 10 times a week, getting loads of hours in the pool. We get seven practices a week. I'm thankful for my seven times a week I swim, but it would be nice to be able to do more," said Flynn.

Major city project

The new regional aquatic centre's funding was announced in spring 2020, with the city contributing close to $5 million of the $24.7 million toward the regional facility, with additional contributions from the provincial and federal governments.

It will be located on Grenfell campus and contain a lap pool, leisure pool, day care, gymnasium and fitness centre.

submitted by The City of Corner Brook
submitted by The City of Corner Brook

"This is, I think, the single biggest infrastructure project dollar-wise that the city has done, including the Civic Centre," said Parsons.

"We get an immense amount of value of using some of the old facility, but what you are going to see is something that will be with us for five decades."

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