The Cowichan Aquatic Centre is closed for renovations. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen file)

Aquatic Centre renovations starting soon

More space promised for crowded fitness and aquatic areas

Despite the rest of the province slowly reopening, the Cowichan Aquatic Centre will be closed for the foreseeable future.

Not so much due to the pandemic, but for a long-anticipated renovation.

The facility, controversial when first constructed because not everyone in the Cowichan Valley Regional District wanted to direct their tax dollars there, has become so popular that it’s current state no longer fits the needs of the community. More space is needed.

“The upgrades to the CAC will allow this well-loved facility to better serve the growing needs of the community for many years to come,” said a press release issued May 29 by North Cowichan mayor Al Siebring. “I’m thrilled to see this important project move forward so this facility can continue to provide accessible, state of the art recreational opportunities to our community.”

The good news?

“The renovation will be almost entirely funded through a $2.377 million Federal Gas Tax Grant,” confirmed the mayor.

What’s new? An additional 1,000 square feet of space in the fitness area upstairs along with aquatic centre improvements to accommodate more competitions and events, fold-out bleachers for swim competitions, and increased deck space.

The bad news?

The entire facility will be closed for as long as the construction takes. The pool and change room areas might be able to re-open in late summer but no promises have been made.

“While we are cognizant of impacts to patrons, we are working to make sure these impacts are as minimal as they can be,” Siebring said.

North Cowichan’s general manager of Community Services, Ernie Mansueti, said the opening should be summer or early fall.

“We will know more as the project mobilizes,” he said. Our first priority was to get this project underway as quickly as possible while the facility was already closed with the COVID crisis. Within the next month we will be able to provide more clarity.”

Council gave the green light to proceed with the project at their April 15 meeting. The job went to tender and “15 mostly Vancouver Island-based contractors were selected to perform various aspects of this large-scale project,” said the release.

Heatherbrae Builders Co. Ltd. will act as the Construction Manager and will be coordinating the work on-site. Work being in early June.

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