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‘Frustrated, disappointed:’ Vernon council sounds off on pool costs

Costs have risen from $3.3 to $4.8 million for the Lakeview Wading Pool
Vernon’s beloved Peanut Wading Pool at Lakeview Park on East Hill is being refurbished, but construction delays have resulted in the city announcing the pool will not open in 2023. (City of Vernon photo)

Vernon council is not happy with the escalating costs of the Lakeview Wading Pool Revitalization Project.

In a report to council on Monday, May 13, Stan Mitchell, manager of Recreation Services, requested up to $300,000 in additional funds for the completion of the project.

More funds were needed due to an “approved and designed power connection that failed the field inspection.” This then led to the need for a new disconnect switch, which added 10-weeks to the project timeline.

According to Mitchell, “due to interpretation by the field inspector, he deemed that we required one more disconnect switch, which we had to add to get his approval on the project.”

The project has seen numerous delays, as it was initially expected to be re-opened in the summer of 2023.

“I am frustrated that this project is significantly over budget,” said Coun. Brian Quiring. “We started at $3.3 (million) and now we are at $4.8 (million) and there is nothing we can do about it except to pass it and it is not fair to the taxpayers.”

Mitchell added that the construction management contract was $18,000 a month for the construction manager and the site supervisor. The manager requested 10 more weeks of supervision due to the need for the new disconnect switch.

“Some of these escalation costs seem a little bit high to me,” Quiring said. “When there is a delay, the client shouldn’t always be responsible for it because the client didn’t cause the delay.”

“There are things on here that just doesn’t make any sense. This process did not work.”

Quiring suggested that a post-mortem on the projects process should be done at a later date, which was agreed upon by Coun. Kari Gares.

“We do not have any other alternative, and we need to get this pool open,” Gares said. “We are a year behind schedule already and the public has noticed that.”

According to the report submitted to council, cost escalation resulting from the 10-week delay includes landscaping, irrigation, tile work, housekeeping, planting and furniture increases all amounting to a cost of $133,785.

The landscaping and irrigation costs, which were shown to have increased by $45,000, particularly seemed to confuse Gares.

“Why are we seeing these increases? Would these things not have already been figured out?”

Mitchell responded that these costs were part of budgets two years ago, and the contracts for these specific areas were not contracted out until recently.

“I do agree that the way that this worked did not work well,” he remarked.

Coun. Teresa Durning questioned the structure and management of the project and was also “extremely frustrated” in how the project has played out.

“I am stressed about our accountability to our taxpayers,” Durning said. “We are being pigeon-holed into rubber-stamping this and I would also like to see a post-mortem on this.”

The pool project includes: replacement of the pool basin; a new mechanical, washroom and storage building; and enhancements to the park with the addition of a small spray park. The project is intended to increase accessibility for users and make the space more inviting and sustainable for future use by the Greater Vernon community.

The pool is still on track to be opened by June 28, 2024, and the request for funds was passed by council unanimously, albeit “under duress” by Quiring.

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Bowen Assman

About the Author: Bowen Assman

I joined The Morning Star team in January 2023 as a reporter. Before that, I spent 10 months covering sports in Kelowna.
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