Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said it is frustrating but the city has little choice but to go ahead and replace all the tiles in the community pool, even though the cost has doubled since last year.
Last June, city staff informed council that the tiles installed as part of a $28 million renovation in 2011 weren’t safe and needed to be replaced.
The tiles, at 12 x 24 inches, are too large to provide adequate grip for pool users’ bare feet, and according to Chuck Loewen, then the city’s recreational facilities manager, cost more than $79,000 annually to maintain in a slip-resistant condition. Loewen explained that to keep the tiles slip-resistant, they require acid etching three to four times per year, plus additional maintenance and powerwashing on a weekly basis.
Loewen’s estimate was that it would cost $150,000 to replace the entire 13,000 square feet of tile with a much smaller and more slip resistant two-by-two inch tile. At a council meeting earlier this month, council found out that estimate was wrong.
“There was really only one company that bid on it, and it was $300,000. So we had to find it somewhere in the budget,” said Jakubeit, noting that there were complicating factors for the contractor, like having to complete the job in a short, seven-week time frame.
Last year, Loewen said the city would recoup the cost of the tiles in about 23 months by not having to do the extra maintenance and acid washes. That’s still the case, says Jakubeit, but now it will take about 42 months to recover the costs.
“It’s still cheaper than paying $80,000 to do that etching,” said Jakubeit, pointing out the city also has to fix the problem due to safety concerns. There have been minor slips, he said, but no major falls.
“We didn’t want to wait another year, because July is the only ideal time. It is the least impact dollar-wise and customer-service wise to do it in July rather than any other time of the year.”
Former mayor Garry Litke was on the pool steering committee during the construction phase. During the discussions last June, he said he didn’t know how tile not meeting anti-slip standards were used.
“We were assured at every juncture that everything was being done according to standards,” said Litke. “This was as much of a surprise to me as it was to everyone. It seems to me that this should never have been contemplated.”