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City gives green light to $537,000 upgrades to Aqua Theatre

'I think we need to move forward on this. Costs will only go up if we delay any longer,' said Coun. Pat Hehn at virtual council committee meeting
2018-04-04 aqua theatre.jpg
The city is spending $537,000 to complete structural repairs and upgrades to the Rotary Aqua Theatre, built in 1958 by the Rotary Club. Supplied photo

City council approved spending $537,000 for the oft-delayed structural improvements and enhancements to the Rotary Aqua Theatre at Monday’s virtual council committee meeting.

Coun. Pat Hehn said now is a “good time to get the work” done, noting the facility is closed to events due to the pandemic.

“I think we need to move forward on this. Costs will only go up if we delay any longer … I think we should be moving forward,” said Hehn.

Her colleagues agreed.

The proposed renovation includes a new concrete floor slab and drain, replacement of doors, interior painting and repair of damaged walls, new fixtures, repair and upgrades to the exterior of the building, mandatory replacement of corroded steel supporting beams, a new electrical service, a sloping cedar shake roof and aesthetic upgrades to the front elevation so it’s in-line with other park buildings.

Council originally approved $450,000 for the work in 2019.

But more than $300,000 of that money was spent on engineering studies, a comprehensive set of construction drawings and other items.

So council, during budget deliberations last December, added an additional $200,000 to the budget to pave the way for construction. However, the lowest tender was higher than expected, so council opted to defer the project.

It was re-tendered several months ago and council again delayed the initiative when the pandemic hit.

But on Monday, council gave the revitalization project the green light. This time, they added $55,000 from the parkland reserve fund to account for the higher-than expected cost.

Yorkton Construction, the successful bidder for the project, has assured the city it can complete the project this year.

Ray Merkley, the city’s director of parks, recreation and culture, said it’s important to move ahead with the project.

“This project is intended to fix the structural deficiencies of the building in order to address public safety concerns,” noted a staff report.

“As the structural deficiencies were identified earlier and were intended to be repaired in 2019, the deficiencies are likely more significant now. 

“Completing the project now, while all scheduled events have been cancelled due to COVID-19, would facilitate the building's use as a public gathering space in the future when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.”

Staff advised it would not be prudent to further delay the project.

“As the city has now tendered the project twice, this would be the third time the project was put out to public tender. It is most likely that the cost to execute the contract will continue to increase each time - this is due to the increasing costs of labour and construction materials and also due to the optics of the city tendering the project multiple times,” noted the report to councillors.

Issues related to the facility’s structure were first identified in 2011 when Tacoma Engineers completed a structural review that concluded “the deterioration of the roof framing elements is a serious structural concern and will continue unless an adequate system is installed.”

Those same concerns were echoed in subsequent reports by Garland Canada and Steenhof Building Services Group.


Dave Dawson

About the Author: Dave Dawson

Dave Dawson is community editor of OrilliaMatters.com
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