February 20, 2016 7:31 pm
Updated: February 20, 2016 8:47 pm

Urban pool costs jump $1.8 million, city council asked to approve budget increase

Concept design for urban pool in Hawrelak Park.

Courtesy, City of Edmonton

EDMONTON – A city committee is recommending city council give close to $2 million dollars to an urban pool concept that has been years in the making.

City council approved a man-made beach and wading pool area in Hawrelak Park in 2013. The beach play area would be approximately the size of a soccer field.

“The concept of a man made beach play area is new within the City of Edmonton and will be a unique play environment and amenity that will be well used by citizens, particularly young families,” reads a capital report.

Concept design for urban pool in Hawrelak Park.

Courtesy, City of Edmonton

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However, the project estimate has grown since it was first approved three years ago. The approved budget at that time was $3.3 million. The project estimate is now $5.1 million. The Community Services Committee will ask council Monday to approve an additional $1.8 million for the urban pool.

A report to council shows that the project went through significant re-design and was re-located closer to the playground in the park, leading to the additional costs.

The additional funds will cover the cost of a new splash pad, washrooms and change rooms, a bigger mechanical room and additional environmental assessments.

The committee examined three options: abandon the project, reduce the scope of the project to only include the splash pad or increase the project’s budget to $5.1 million. It is recommending city council pick the third option.

“Additional funding is required to complete the water play feature at William Hawrelak Park as designed to ensure that the facility will adequately service the public and meet Alberta Health Services requirements,” the report reads.

If approved, construction on the water park will start this summer.

However, some are already expressing concern about the higher price tag.

Councillor Andrew Knack said he loves the idea of the urban pool but is concerned about the escalating costs.

“I recognize our administration has provided another capital profile where they found savings they could allocate to this. But I think before you even think about making that change, you want to have that conversation around, well if you found $1.8 million savings here, is that the right place to put $1.8 million dollars? Or if we were going to spend it, should it not go to a different capital priority?” he said.

Knack also suggested putting a hold on the project since most of the funds used thus far have gone into the design of the urban pool.

“We need to talk about all those options. I’m just personally not that interested in getting to that higher cost right now. Could that money be better spent on other capital infrastructure that has a significant benefit?”

Mayor Don Iveson is also on board with hitting pause on the urban pool.

“My inclination would be to shelve the project based on the cost overruns,” he said.

“I think it’s a nice to-have, not a must-have right now. If there’s something we can do to bring the costs down in the future, fine, but we have much higher priorities than this.”

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