OLDS — Town council has approved proposals by administrative staff to spend $2.8 million on upgrades to the aquatic centre.
All of that money will come from either provincial or federal grants.
Work on the project is expected to begin in 2023.
Approval for the work was granted during a special council meeting on Nov. 30. The entire town budget comes up for further discussion or possible ratification on Dec. 12.
The big money is for an overall retrofit of the aquatic centre to make it more energy-efficient as well as simply to renovate it, as it’s now about 20 years old.
The estimated cost of that project is $2,768,455. Of that figure, $2,214,764 will come from a federal 80/20 cost-shared Inclusive Communities building grant.
The remaining $533,691 will come from provincial funds: the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI), according to budget documents.
Council also granted approval for three other projects in the aquatic centre, all of which will be financed via MSI funds.
One is to spend $72,500 on upgrades which include renovating the system to deliver chemicals to the pool, repairing aging tiles and creating a new sump pump system.
Another $10,500 is earmarked for security cameras.
And the remaining $18,500 is slated to obtain a sophisticated and very popular water toy called a wibit for the facility.
Wagstaff said the $2.7 million project for which the federal grant is intended will cover upgrades to the heating plant, ventilation and plumbing system, the whole back end of the facility as well as roof replacement, including installation of solar panels.
“A lot has changed in the 20 years since it was built to be able to make it more of an efficient building for energy use,” Wagstaff said, adding that making these changes will open up opportunities for other grants in the future that could make the aquatic centre even more energy efficient.
“Our pool has not received an upgrade since it was built. This would be its first major extension to the life of that building,” Wagstaff said. “It is a building that has obviously some very high energy use.
“Again, you would think 20 years ago wasn’t that long ago, but compared to the technologies of today, it’s highly inefficient and its equipment is outdated.
"For our 20 per cent investment, we will receive the 80 per cent to finish the project.”
Coun. Heather Ryan wondered how long the retrofit, when completed, will extend the life of the building.
Wagstaff did not say exactly, but said when all the work is done the community will have almost an entirely new aquatic centre.
“Notwithstanding the exterior, like the walls of the exterior, this essentially brings us up to almost like a new facility,” he said.
He said even once the retrofit is completed, maintenance will be required every five to seven years such as tile replacement. That would be the case whether the existing aquatic centre is upgraded or a new one was built.
“As far as the plant end, this would be like having a new plant, so basically start the clock from zero,” Wagstaff said.
“I just want to say I’m wholeheartedly behind this because certainly a lot has changed like you say in 20 years and going to become more energy-efficient is just the way to go,” Ryan said.
“I mean, that’s probably one of the biggest utility draws for the town, I would think.”
Coun. Darren Wilson gave thumbs up for the project as well.
“I was going to say this is a good news story and I’ll change that; this is a great news story in terms of the GHG implications, the energy efficiency, the carbon impact and move towards net zero,” he said.
Wilson urged administrative staff to publicize the project via various news media.
Finance director Sheena Linderman said they will, once the feds give the go-ahead to do so.
Deputy mayor Wanda Blatz asked if there are similar grants available for the Sportsplex.
Linderman said staff looked at that possibility, but determined the aquatic centre fit the criteria the best because it would result in the greatest energy savings.
The chemical delivery project will include the purchase and installation of large storage tanks that will be located at the back of the building by a ramp into the facility.
The chemical can then be offloaded from a delivery truck or driver via hoses.
Wagstaff said that change became necessary because delivery companies will no longer bring the product down the ramp into the facility.
“They will unload at the top of the ramp. They will not go down the ramp with the chemicals,” Wagstaff said.
“That requires us to bring over operations, to coordinate with an operator to come over with a bobcat or a lift to help us lift the pallets off the truck and take them down inside.”
Even then he said, that procedure creates problems for pool staff, because the barrels are very large and difficult to manouevre. Plus, handling the chemicals creates a health and safety hazard for staff.
Wagstaff said in the case of the tiling project, because the building is now 20 years old, some tiles are becoming chipped and worn. Some are actually falling off.
“They're also becoming difficult to clean, so it’s both preventative maintenance as well as aesthetics to be able to improve the showers,” he said.
Wagstaff said staff are spending a lot of time fixing the sump pump because it too is aging and wasn’t installed correctly.
“It’s been 20 years, but it was not properly or adequately installed originally on rails,” he said.
"This is something that would reduce the amount of maintenance that needs to occur on that sump pump because it rattles around while it goes off. It also will help on the connections being properly done there.”