New recreation facilities have been given the greenlight, but could costs climb?
Cambridge, Kitchener and Guelph are planning to build brand new recreation facilities in the coming years. But all three come with a price tag higher than originally planned.
The Cambridge multiplex is projected to be a 125,000-square-foot facility with a 10-lane pool, running track, library and other sports and recreational amenities.
It was originally projected to cost $66 million, and now it's climbed to about $101 million.
Cambridge mayor Kathryn McGarry said it will be worth it with "sports tourism, family enjoyment, and different activities."
She explained that the city will lobby upper levels of governments for grants and will also be looking at development charges and issuing debts to foot the bill.
In Kitchener, a $93 million recreation and aquatics centre was approved this week at RBJ Schlegel Park.
"The community has been asking for this," said Kitchener Councillor Kelly Galloway-Sealock. "It’s been years in the making."
The project is more than double the original $39 million estimate, but the city said they can afford it.
"Just under $20 million in grants from the provincial and federal governments, as well as were applying for other grants," said Galloway-Sealock.
Kitchener also pointed to development charges that would be used to offset the cost.
But not everyone is on board.
"Development charges don’t come from heaven," said Kitchener Councillor John Gazzola. "They are charges that we charge the development industry and they immediately charge the new home owner."
Gazzola was the sole vote against the cost of the project.
"The most expensive capital project in the history of the city," Gazzola commented.
Gazzola fears $93 million could just be the start. He said once it is tendered, the costs could rise.
That is what happened in Guelph earlier this year with its proposed South End Community Centre. It was originally budgeted at $80 million but was tendered at $120 million.
"If they get it wrong by $40 million, this is the kind of project that will bankrupt even a large contractor," said Jayne Holmes, the city's Deputy Chief Administrative Officer of Infrastructure, Development and Enterprise.
City staff in Guelph deciding to cancel the tender and put a hold on the 165,000-square-foot aquatic complex and double gym.
"Generally, pricing for construction projects go up of course with inflation but it is the volatility that is really hard to plan for it and is very risky," Holmes said.
In 2023, Guelph aims to re-tender and Cambridge hopes to have detailed designs of the multiplex.
Kitchener staff said construction on the aquatics centre should start in 2024 or 2025.