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New West investigation digs into details of Canada Games Pool leak

New Westminster pursuing an insurance claim for Canada Games Pool
Canada Games Pool3
Community members got a final look at the Canada Games Pool before it is decommissioned.

The City of New Westminster is working to recoup some costs connected to Canada Games Pool.

On Monday, council received a report about the findings of an investigation into the cause of the leak in the tank of Canada Games Pool, which led to the pool closing earlier than had been anticipated.

Coun. Daniel Fontaine questioned if the City of New Westminster has made an insurance claim regarding the pool.

“Is that something that's s still in the works or is that something that is even being contemplated at this time?” he asked.

Lisa Leblanc, the city’s director of engineering, said “there is an insurance claim being pursued” but said additional details would have to be provided by the finance department.

Tobi May, the city’s manager of civic buildings and properties, added: “That information is currently not released to the public.”

According to the staff report, the cost of expert and legal analysis has been tracked in the təməsew̓txʷ Aquatic and Community Centre project budget under “soft costs.”

“The budget allowance of $100,000 was exceeded. As of today, approximately $160,000 legal costs were spend on obtaining technical and legal advices, with an additional forecast of $15,000 to be invoiced,” said the report. “The overage will be covered by the TACC project contingency.”

On Monday, staff gave council an overview of the consultant’s findings.

“The Canada Games Pool tank leak was caused by stress differentials resulting from settlement of the foundation soils under the pool,” May said. “And, due to a complex site history and the potential for multiple causes, expert analysis was unable to identify a clear cause or causes of the soil settlement and subsequent tank failure.”

May told council that contributory factors include the age of the facility and its foundation, the earlier standard to which it was built, prior damage that was caused to the pool tank in the 1990s, construction vibrations from the adjacent təməsew̓txʷ Aquatic and Community Centre (TACC) site, and weakening and consolidation of the foundation soils and seasonal changes in groundwater, including extreme wet and dry weather encountered immediately prior to the failure.

“The tank failure was caused by stress differential resulting from settlement of the sediments under the pool,” she said. “And just in other terms, it was a slab-on-grade construction meant to be continuously supported underneath the expanse of the concrete, but due to settlement and voids opening up under this lab, certain parts of the concrete was unsupported, resulting in the stress differentials that lead to cracking.”

May said the geotechnical analysis determined that there was “considerable variability” in the depth of fill and filled layers throughout the site. She said the soil types under the Canada Games Pool building footprints had “significant potential” for long-term settlement.

“Other buildings in the area, such as the Justice Institute and the Glenbrook fire hall, utilized pile-supported foundations and suspended structural slabs, but the foundation of Canada Games Pool was slab-on-grade, with timber piles, which was likely the standard at the time of construction,” she said.

Leblanc reminded council watchers that the Canada Games Pool had begun leaking in October of 2021 due to cracking of the concrete tank basin.

“Repair strategies were considered but the cost, risk, uncertainty and limited remaining useful life of this facility led staff to recommend not pursuing repair,” she said. “At a special open meeting of council on Nov. 24, 2021, an announcement was made about the closure of the pool, and it was made known to the public at that time that an investigation into the cause would be conducted. That's what we're doing here this evening.”

The City of New Westminster hired Stantec Consulting Engineers to investigate the cause of the tank leak.

May said the city also asked the external consultant to look at some specific considerations based on and observations made at the time of the failure. That included considering if the construction vibrations from the təməsew̓txʷ Aquatic and Community Centre site had played a role in the tank failure at Canada Games Pool. She said the firm noted “this activity could have caused sufficient disturbance to exacerbate the pre-existing conditions” but also pointed out that a Metro Vancouver sewer line is in close proximity to the TACC construction site.

“Metro Van provided some very strict limitations to the vibrations that they would accept, and the construction team did continuous monitoring there,” she said. “So the vibrations measured at the site of the Metro Van sewer line were within acceptable levels. … That Metro Van sewer line was actually closer to construction than Canada Games Pool, which indicates that the same levels of vibration, if not less, were probably experienced at the Canada Games Pool building.”