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Unforeseen Issues with Alder Rec Centre Pool Project

Unforeseen Issues with Alder Rec Centre Pool Project

Replacing the pools at Orangeville’s Alder Rec Centre is going to cost more than expected.

“It’s a difficult pill to swallow,” said Orangeville’s Mayor Sandy Brown. “It’s very disappointing to hear that the work wasn’t done in a proper manner, originally, and it has caused this problem.”

On October 18, 2021, council members for the Town of Orangeville received a staff report outlining that more time and money will be required to complete the Alder Recreation Centre pool replacement project. The document stated that up to $632,633 would be necessary for the sub-grade remediation and structural upgrades to the Alder Rec Centre Pool area as unexpected issues have come up, including the unearthing of rusting structural support beams. The problems are primarily attributed to water leaks and the ‘poor installation’ of the existing pools, put in with the original construction of the Alder Rec Centre in 2003. The $632,633 is on top of the approximate $216,000 in contingency funding and $4,337,625 allocated to the pool liners project back in July. Orangeville’s council resolved to approve the additional capital required to finish the project.

“This particular building was built, as I think we can all say, with some deficiencies, unfortunately,” said Councillor Joe Andrews. “As you start to peel some of the onion layers, you’re seeing some things that are problematic.”

In July, Orangeville council directed staff to proceed with a contract to replace the current aquatics setup at the Alder Rec Centre with a complete stainless steel lap pool and a leisure pool with stainless steel sides with a vinyl PVC membrane floor. Spray pad features were to be added, and the six-lane lap pool was to be expanded to eight. In the report, staff state that the demolition of the existing pool liner began in July, with the sawing of the deck to allow for two more lap lanes and the new stainless-steel system.

Staff tell that during the excavation process, it was discovered that the building and pool had experienced leaks, and there had been a significant collapse of base soils around the pool due to saturation. This resulted in water spreading from the west side of the leisure pool to the deep end of the lap pool. Moreover, it was revealed that ‘waterbeds’ had formed and been flowing underneath the pool’s slabs, undermining their integrity and, by transference, the deck. Water within the subsoil had even begun to deteriorate the arena’s steel support columns, affecting the structural integrity of the building.

“What you had is basically water flowing underneath your slabs and footings and around the walls of the membranes that surrounded those pools,” explained Ray Osmond, General Manager of Community Services for the Town of Orangeville.

Furthermore, the pool deck was not reinforced by rebar or mesh steel to provide extra strength and resist movement. The document described how the pool deck acted as a suspended slab without architectural components due to the soil collapse. Lastly, it was told how rust had formed all along the walls of the pool’s liner due to water sitting on it continuously overextended periods.

Structural and geotechnical engineers have specified that additional work for the pool project includes removing all saturated soil and remaining slabs and restore to native soil condition. It was also recommended that proper backfills be installed, included a weeping tile subdrainage to mitigate against future water loss or groundwater infiltration.

The staff report indicates that the primary concern is the potential damage to the Alder Rec Centre’s structural columns and the undermining of the existing pool slabs. Osmond described how some of these columns are integral to holding up the roof of the building and that pieces of the columns would need to be cut and replaced to stabilize. Engineers recommended that all columns be reinforced to protect against future rusting, but a report outlaying strategies has not been submitted yet. Staff state they are basing costs on a worst-case scenario.

“That’s a piece of work and it’s taken a lot of time,” said Osmond, describing that the intention is that strengthening the steel supports will ensure they take the Alder Street Rec Centre to its intended end of life, expected to be fifty years from its 2003 construction date. Osmond went on to say that staff will be conducting a structural assessment of the entire Alder facility over the next two or three weeks and that this is regularly done every five to six years.

Staff state the extra costs are a result of poor installation and water loss from the pool system. It was told that the issues could only have been discovered through demolition and excavation of the pool deck, as the problems had been covered up from the human eye. Staff also reported increased difficulties as the team did not have access to structural or as-built drawings for the pool.

“I don’t know if there’s any litigation that can be applied after the fact,” said Councillor Andrews. “I’m speechless at this point, because I’m just surprised what has been found here.”

The staff document describes how the additional contingency funding for the pool project will come from the money allocated to the Alder Rec Centre Sustainable Refrigeration project. This is the same refrigeration project that council decided to draw funding from back in July when it was revealed that the pool project would surpass the original budget of approximately $3 million approved in September 2020, primarily due to a rise in steel prices. In July, staff outlined that the intention was to identify government grant opportunities to replenish the funds required for the Alder Rec Centre Sustainable Refrigeration project.

The total amount allocated for the Alder Rec Centre pool replacement project, excluding taxes, had previously been $4,554,191.25. With the additional contingency funding being moved over, the project could cost up to approximately $5.2 million. As mentioned earlier, the original budget approved for the Alder Rec Centre pool replacement project had been about $3 million. At council’s July meeting, it was said sponsorship opportunities may be explored to help the town recoup the costs of the new pools.

Initially set to be completed in December, Osmond told council that due to the extent of the remediation required, they are unsure when the new pools at the Alder Rec Centre will be fully installed. Osmond said he suspected construction might go into February of next year.

References – Unforeseen Issues with Alder Rec Centre Pool Project

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