Big scissors and even bigger smiles will be on display June 4 when the Penticton Community Centre has its ribbon cutting ceremony officially opening the $23.3 million expanded and upgraded facility.
The ceremony will be followed by public tours and then, as of June 6, the centre will be running a full schedule.
The beginning of the end of the renovations commenced Monday as water began to flow into the PCC’s main attraction, beginning the roughly 100-hour process of filling the facility’s new pool tanks with over 450,000 gallons of H2O.
“It is a wonderful moment,” said Mayor Dan Ashton. “It has been a long time waiting to get it open but we are almost there.
“It is a beautiful facility. The light, the airiness of it, the size of it, the scope of it, the amenities and the ambience of the whole area. It is absolutely phenomenal.”
The new aquatic centre is considerably more modern, spacious and naturally lit than its dingy, dark predecessor. Featuring huge panels of glass glazing, the expanded natatorium with its playful partitions, yellow water-slide and bright white tiling, offset with portions of blue, yellow and green shadings, simply looks like a good time.
The facility now boasts two new hot-tubs — a large one and a smaller family one; a 10-lane lap pool; and a multipurpose leisure pool full of interactive water-features including a lazy river.
“When you sit in a room with a bunch of architects, building contractors and legal beagles and try to picture the plans, it’s hard to imagine what it will look like,” said Ashton. “But when it comes together like this it is really great.
“When people get in here and see the expansion of the swimming lanes, the community pool and all the other amenities, they are going to (be impressed).”
The renovations also added considerably more accessibility to the pools for those with mobility issues; more spectator viewing area; upgraded filtration and disinfectant systems; design improvements to the building layout; remedies to structural problems; and new LEED-standard environmentally sustainable operating systems. The fitness centre was also expanded and relocated above the aquatic area.
Considering the city got roughly $15 million worth of provincial and federal government stimulus grants for the $23.3 million project, plus (new pool or no new pool) the PCC required about $4 million worth of upgrading to repair its aging infrastructure anyway, Ashton said Penticton is lucky to be getting such a world-class facility for what amounts to less than $4 million of extra municipal capital spending.
Key to that equation, he said, is that it was “substantially completed” in time to meet the grant-money deadline and that the project is going to cost how much it was budgeted for.
“We had an issue here before,” said Ashton. “We couldn’t have built the (South Okanagan) Events Centre at a worse time during the construction with the way the economies were going straight up in costs.
“With the (PCC) everybody knew that we were under the gun and that we had to do it on budget.”
Ashton credited the work of construction manager Stuart Olson, project manager Pivotal Projects and architect Bruce Carscadden for getting the facility built on time and on budget.
“The three companies all got together, realized the situation right from day one and pulled together, along with (city recreation manager) Dave Lieskovsky and the staff at the City of Penticton,” said Ashton.
Lieskovsky said the project team conducted “value engineering exercises” throughout the process.
“As the project progressed through construction, we would stop to review whether or not we were going to be on schedule and on budget,” explained Lieskovsky. “We looked at everything we were doing to make sure the numbers of the project as a whole were progressing (on track).”
For instance, he said, more money could have been spent surfacing the upper lobby floor, but that was determined to be a nonessential expense.
“Some very minor things had to be taken out of the design, but there was never any real major components that were subtracted,” Lieskovsky said. “The functionality and original intent has always been maintained throughout the whole process.”
Lieskovsky said city staff is currently working to make sure the proper operating procedures are in place for the PCC’s June opening, not to mention a fully trained staff.
“It is hard to say at this point how many new positions this will involve,” he said. “It depends on how many hours each (current) guard will be available.”