Tofino’s pursuit of an indoor recreation facility is being outpaced by skyrocketing construction costs.
The $7 million facility Tofino was pursuing last year has become $14 million this year, according to Director of Infrastructure and Public Works Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers presented the new cost estimates during a Nov. 24 special council meeting, showing photos of what the potential facility could look like and explaining the district spent roughly $125,000 on design and cost estimate work, which led to the new dollar amount.
“A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, so the nice pictures was the sugar and here’s the medicine,” he quipped. “The last time this was in front of council, it was significantly less than $14.7 million.”
He said district staff worked on the facility’s design and cost estimates alongside architects and engineers as well as a construction company familiar with similar facilities.
“We were having a conversation between the designers and the builders at the same time to try to bring costs down as we worked through it,” he said.
He added that the $14 million price includes green building strategies so that the project would be eligible for the federal government’s Green Communities Inclusive Building grant, which could potentially cover 60 per cent of the cost.
“I will say apart from the aspects of this that make it net-zero, it’s a very simple building. It’s a square box with basically a veranda put around it. We are where we are in 2022 with prices what they are,” he said.
He added the project would be unable to move ahead without significant grant funding and, even if that funding was received, the district would still be on the hook for roughly $6 million.
“How that’s funded, whether it’s through debt, whether it’s through other forms of payment like pay parking, I don’t know; I just know that this is the number and it’s a lot to swallow,” he said.
Rodgers has been a staunch advocate for a new recreation facility for the past decade and said that while the need for one is as high as ever, so is the estimated price tag.
“A recreation facility of some sort…is a vital need for our community and something that we’ve been missing for a lot of years,” he said, adding he wished the district had gone ahead and built the facility years ago, prior to costs ballooning.
Mayor Dan Law asked about potential fundraising to ease the burden on taxpayers.
“How does the district work with individuals out there who may want to donate to our children and youth and elderly?” he asked.
District CAO Nyla Attiana responded that any large donations that come in for a specific project involves entering into a contract to spend those funds for that purpose.
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