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Grand opening of təməsew̓ txʷ Aquatic Centre in New West set for June 2024

Opening of New Westminster's $114.6-million aquatic and community centre delayed until May 2024 – but it’s still on budget
Construction of New Westminster's new pool and community centre continues on East Sixth Avenue.

New West residents who are anxious to take a dip at the təməsew̓ txʷ Aquatic and Community Centre will have to wait a bit longer. 

On Monday, council received an update from staff on the current project schedule status and current proposed opening dates for the təməsew̓ txʷ Aquatic and Community Centre (TACC), along with the programming impacts resulting from the impending closure of the Centennial Community Centre. The project’s revised schedule now calls for a soft opening in May 2024 and a grand opening on Saturday, June 3.

Toby May, the city’s manager of civic buildings and properties, said Phase 1 of the project is on track to be completed in spring 2024, which is an additional three-month delay from the update provided to council earlier this year. She said the delay is due to previous issues encountered on the site, such as poor ground conditions, as well as a labour dispute and other items.

“The public opening is scheduled to begin in May 2024, which is a two-month delay from the previous update,” she told council at its Sept. 11 meeting. “So, if anything, we’d like the takeaway here to be that, despite the three-month construction delay, we were able to mitigate some of that by accelerating the occupation and transition to opening plans.”

“Intense efforts” have been applied to minimize the delay to facility opening, said a staff report.

According to the staff report, the capital project is still tracking to the approved overall project budget of $114.6 million. Staff say the delay in opening TACC will have an impact on the 2024 operating budget for this facility, with that estimated to be between $0.9 and $1.8 million for revenues and $0.5 to $1 million for expenses.

“The project is on track to the approved overall budget of $114.6 million. The full scope of work has been funded and all contracts have been awarded at this point,” May said. “Our current spend is $90.1 million and we have $24.5 million left to be spent.” 

The 11,150-square-foot təməsew̓ txʷ Aquatic and Community Centre will include an eight-lane, 50-metre pool, a leisure pool that includes a lazy river, a fitness centre, two gymnasiums, multi-purpose rooms, community gathering spaces, child-care spaces and more. 

May said Phase 2, which is the demolition of Centennial Community Centre and completion of on- and off-site works, is still targeted for completion in summer 2024. Phase 2 work is expected to begin in November with the abatement and demolition of Centennial Community Centre.  

On Monday, council directed staff to provide on-going updates on the təməsew̓ txʷ Aquatic and Community Centre project as the project nears completion.  

Mayor Patrick Johnstone said the city is “getting close” to completing the project, but he’s not going to start celebrating just yet. Given what’s been happening in the world since the project was first approved, he’s pleased with the way it’s progressing.

“We were supposed to go to procurement in March 2020 and we had to take a step back from procurement because the world was falling apart at the time,” he said. “And we had to make a decision in the months after that whether we were still moving ahead with this with so much uncertainty in the world.”

Johnstone said some Metro Vancouver municipalities that started work on facilities after New West had already embarked on təməsew̓ txʷ Aquatic and Community Centre are experiencing challenges completing those projects on time and on budget. He said COVID was just one of the issues faced by the City of New Westminster while working on this project.

“Since then we have had inflation. We have had supply chain crisis. We have had a concrete strike. We have had all these events go on. And we are pretty close to being on time and on budget,” he said. “That’s impressive.”  

A staff report stated that in an effort to expedite the timeline, double shifts have been implemented wherever feasible, along with the addition of multiple crews to work in all areas available. The report, however, cautioned that the project still faces external market risks related to labour shortages and resource availability challenges.  

“A robust monitoring system has been established which includes: regular three-week look-ahead; continued check-ins during owner/architect/contractor meetings; and continuous updates to the master schedule,” said the report. “As this project approaches the Phase 1 occupancy, the project team has set up a dedicated meeting and transition schedule to facilitate the transition to operations, as well as the complex-commissioning process. Both processes are integral to a successful project completion, and both present their own set of challenges and scheduling risks.”