Frequently Asked Questions

WHAT IS THIS PROJECT ALL ABOUT?

The Strathcona Gardens Recreation Complex is a well-loved and well-used recreational facility that contributes to the health and well being of residents within the City of Campbell River, Electoral Area D and surrounding areas. It provides countless personal, social, and economic benefits to the public, and is integral to building strong communities. Key components of Strathcona Gardens were constructed in the 1970’s. Through studies and feedback from the public, we know that the facility is aging and is in need of renewal. More needs to be done to maintain and enhance this valued public asset.

The Strathcona Regional District (SRD) owns and operates Strathcona Gardens. In planning for the future of the facility, the SRD has embarked on the first steps of a revitalization project called REC-REATE Strathcona Gardens. The goal of REC-REATE is to renew the facility to address aging components and to meet the diverse and changing recreational needs of the community now and in the future.

WHY IS THIS HAPPENING NOW?

REC-REATE grew out of recommendations from a 2015 needs assessment study.The public was asked to give its opinion on how the SRD is doing in terms of meeting recreational needs and to share ideas and expectations on how to better meet those needs. Through surveys and open houses with Electoral Area D and City of Campbell River residents, SRD staff heard the existing facility is aging and more can be done to meet the needs of users. A number of potential actions were identified, including operational enhancements, business planning, and redevelopment of the building. High level concept plans and cost estimates were prepared. The Strathcona Gardens Commission, the governing body responsible the Strathcona Gardens recreation complex, supported further investigations and the establishment of a reserve fund for future works based on a preferred concept with a preliminary cost estimate of $21.8 million.

WHAT HAS HAPPENED SO FAR? 

REC-REATE consists of three phases:

  1. The Facility Needs Assessment – completed in 2015 
  2. The Project Development Phase: Feasibility study and final design concept – 2016-2017  
  3. The Project Delivery Phase: Detailed design and construction – 2019-2020

In November 2016, the SRD commissioned a feasibility study to test and refine the preferred concept plan, to ensure that it meets the needs of the community, is technically feasible, makes the most financial sense and enables efficient operations of the facility. The feasibility study phase included additional opportunities for public consultation, a building condition assessment, pool basin investigations, seismic review, geo-technical testing and business case analysis.

The feasibility study confirmed the results of the original needs assessment and delivered the following additional findings:

  • Pool tank leak and capacity issues should be addressed in the initial expansion phase
  • Investment in therapy and wellness-focused expansion meets identified needs and has strong community support
  • Wellness-focused spaces provide a more positive impact on net revenue than other program spaces
  • The social role of the facility is vital to users and should not be underestimated

WHAT COMES NEXT?

In response to concerns about the length of a potential construction shutdown, as well as about the cost of a renovation versus a new build, the Strathcona Gardens Commission has asked that the possibility of building a new aquatic component elsewhere on the site be explored. This investigation is currently underway and its primary objective is to determine whether there is an alternative siting option that would minimize the potential shutdown period and create other desirable improvements at an acceptable cost. Possibilities for re-purposing the current pool area will also be considered. This exercise is expected to take approximately six weeks, with results presented to the Strathcona Gardens Commission in September 2017.

HOW MUCH WILL THIS COST?

The costs for a renovation of this size and complexity were originally estimated to be approximately $21M.

During the feasibility study, a class D capital cost estimate was completed. Based on the increased scope, including new leisure and hot tub as well as information about the condition of the building, the estimated cost of the updated design concept was $40.3 million, comprising the following components:

  • aquatics, wellness & fitness – $15.4 million
  • leisure & hot tub upgrade (optional) – $5.0 million
  • arena expansion, social space & multipurpose rooms – $17.5 million
  • deferred maintenance – $1.3 million
  • site works – $1.1 million

This is still a preliminary cost estimate, which may be adjusted as the preferred concept is further refined. Funding is expected to be sought from a variety of sources, including federal government grant programs as well as the reserve fund established in 2016.

WITH THE COSTS FOR RENEWAL ESTIMATED AT OVER $40M, IS BUILDING A NEW FACILITY A BETTER OPTION?

During completion of the feasibility study, as renovation cost estimates escalated to meet the expanded project scope and technical requirements, the project team requested a high-level costing of a new build scenario for comparison. This was estimated to be $51.7 million, a difference of approximately $11.7 million. This is still a significant gap but it is important to keep in mind that a new build also contains less project risk (more cost certainty) and improved facility outcomes.

Given this narrowing gap and the potential benefits of a new build versus a renovation, the Commission has requested an additional design exercise to explore the cost/benefit of building a new aquatic component elsewhere on the existing site. The results of this exercise will be presented to the Commission in September.

WHAT WILL IT LOOK LIKE? ARE THERE IMAGES YET?

While there are many details to work through, an early concept design has been provided by consulting architects HCMA Architecture + Design and can be found under Project Background on the Current Status page.  

The high-level design tests the physical fit of the key desired improvements which include:

  • Addition of a wellness centre with expanded aquatic, wellness and fitness programming
  • Expanded main pool tank (6-8 lanes), new therapy pool and optional leisure and hot tub replacement
  • Improved accessibility and inclusivity throughout the facility
  • Expanded and improved arena, aquatic and fitness change rooms
  • New reception and information area
  • Increased programming opportunities with new and renovated multi-purpose rooms
  • New and expanded seating in the Rod Brind’amour arena (arena #1)
  • Improved overall flow of people through the facility
  • A new, centrally-located concession area

WILL SUSTAINABILITY PRINCIPALS BE INCORPORATED INTO THIS PROJECT?  

Indeed, the vision of this renewal project aligns well with the Regional District’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and three of the key indicators in the Sustainable Campbell River Framework, notably:

  1. environmental health (solar hot water, reduced water loss from pool tank, low flow fixtures, photo-voltaic panel on south-facing roof, natural daylight and views to nature);

  2. economic vibrancy (locally sourced materials, local trades, local employment); and

  3. social and cultural well-being (creating places for gathering and social connection, supporting active and healthy lifestyles, promoting a holistic view of wellness, and accessible and inclusive design).

WILL ASSESSED SEISMIC VULNERABILITIES BE ADDRESS AS PART OF THE OVERALL REC-REATE PROJECT?  

A structural engineer reviewed the proposed design.

From a seismic perspective, the arenas are pre-engineered structures which are relatively light weight and pose a lesser risk however the concrete masonry block used in the existing aquatic centre has the highest risk. Alterations to the existing roof may provide an opportunity to stabilize parts of the building.  

Further geotechnical testing and seismic analysis will need to be undertaken as the project moves into more detailed design. The results of these tests will be critical in determining the impact (design and cost) on the structural design.

Any work that is undertaken as part of the REC-REATE Strathcona Gardens revitalization project will meet the new BC Building Code, which has robust seismic requirements.

HOW LONG WILL THE RENEWAL OF THE EXISTING FACILITY TAKE? WILL  THE FACILITY BE CLOSED DURING THIS TIME?

Construction for the concept developed through the feasibility study is estimated to take between 18 – 24 months and the facility would likely need to be closed for much of the construction period.

Strathcona Gardens offers the only public indoor pool and ice arenas in the community. A shutdown of this length would have significant impacts to individuals and groups that utilize the facility. The project team has been instructed to investigate whether a new aquatic centre can be built on the existing site to minimize the shutdown period and deliver better outcomes at an acceptable cost.

While a construction shutdown for some length of time is inevitable with a project of this scale, the importance of minimizing disruption and planning well in advance for alternative arrangements is recognized and will be a part of future planning.

HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED?

Contact the project team and Community Advisory Group via the project email: recreate@strathconard.ca