Iqaluit council says yes to aquatic centre borrowing bylaw
“We don’t know the approximate cost”
The new Iqaluit city council, at its first meeting Nov. 6 since the Oct. 15 municipal election, didn’t waste any time getting into a debate about a proposed new aquatic centre.
On Oct.15, the ratepayers of Iqaluit also said in a referendum that the City of Iqaluit could borrow up to $40-million to build the new facility.
But a motion to give third and final reading of the bylaw to borrow up to $40-million for a new aquatic centre drew criticism from new councillors Terry Dobbin and Kenneth Bell.
Dobbin voted to oppose the motion, while Bell abstained, citing a “lack of information” as the reason for his abstention.
Dobbin wanted to ask a couple of questions about the bylaw, but Mayor John Graham said questions are not allowed during third reading of bylaws.
City councillors ultimately voted for third and final reading of the bylaw.
But a request for a decision to hire a project manager for the future aquatic centre project triggered debate after the bylaw’s third reading, when some councilors raised questions about the centre’s cost.
Coun. Romeyn Stevenson asked the City’s director of recreation, Amy Elgersma, if she knows the approximate cost of the project.
Elgersma said she was “hesitant” about estimating a cost because she wanted to “make sure the project is as competitive as possible” and that “companies and individuals can give us the best price for what they deliver.”
Bell pushed Elgersma for an approximate cost, and asked that it be discussed during an in-camera private session of council.
Graham interrupted Bell, however, saying, “we don’t know the approximate cost.”
“She has an approximate number in her head — she just doesn’t want to share it,” Bell said after Graham’s comment.
Discussions with the Government of Nunavut to help with funding efforts are still continuing, and the City is pursuing federal funding as well, Elgersma said.
Bell also asked why the City of Iqaluit has to contract out the project manager function, saying the City should be “looking for a full time project manager to be staffed by [the City].”
“This project is not your run-of-the-mill project. The aquatic centre is specialized and it will require specialized skill and experience to manage it properly,” Elgersma said in response.
Elgersma said the City does not have the technical skills to manage such a project on its own and that adding a new city employee would create other costs.
“If we were to hire someone on this project full-time, there would be other implications, such as housing and other things that are difficult for the City to do,” Elgersma said.
The role for the new project manager would be to make sure a budget and a timeline is respected, and oversee the various steps involved in designing and constructing the new aquatic centre.
“This person would then manage everything up to the occupancy and the warranty of the building,” Elgersma said.
The request for decision did, however, pass unanimously after the comment and question period.
The next steps leading to the aquatic centre, which won’t be built until 2016, include:
• producing geotechnical studies and foundation recommendations;
• issuing a request for proposal for professional project management services;
• hiring a project manager and-or project management firm;
• solidifying financial arrangements, including a short loan and long-term financing;
• issuing a request for proposal for a design team;
• detailing a engineering design;
• tendering for construction; and,