City staff seek additional soil testing of Halifax Common in advance of pool project

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Halifax city staff say additional environmental testing is needed on the Halifax Common before proceeding with its plan to revamp the outdoor pool area after testing "revealed soil contamination greater than the allowable Provincial guidelines."

A city staff report is recommending an increase to the contract for Strum Environmental Ltd., the company doing the environmental testing, in the amount of $31,691.

"The current request is for $21,691 (net HST included) plus a contingency amount of $10,000 (net HST included) as additional on-site testing may be required as a result of this work," it said.

Strum was awarded $15,351 on April 30 to perform testing ahead of Halifax's plan to replace the current Halifax Common pool, splashpad, playground and related facilities. It was increased by $12,239 at the end of September for additional testing.

The report said with the increase, the new total for this purchase order will be $59,281.

The aquatics project, which is part of an overall plan for the future of the Halifax Common, has a budget of about $16 million.

'Leaky old pool'

The current outdoor pool will be closed in the fall of 2021 after it closes for the season. Halifax municipal staff say there is a high risk of it failing before the new facility is completed in the spring of 2023.

Coun. Shawn Cleary said the "leaky old pool" has been there for decades and needs to be replaced.

"So part of this is looking at a much larger, much more sophisticated facility, and in order to do that, they have to do hydrology and other testing," he said.

He said more testing is needed because of the elevated levels of contaminants, but Cleary doesn't believe it's anything to worry about.

"It's only slightly elevated, and I haven't seen the report so I don't know what the contaminants are," he said.

"There's all kind of things that could be in the soil, but this is just one of those areas where [we said] 'Hey, we found some stuff, gotta do some more testing to see what is there, and how much of it is there and how far it is before we can go and build a new pool.'"

Cleary doesn't believe the contaminants will have any impact on the current pool, since its water is recirculated and has chemical treatment.

"I would be much more worried about maybe the things that come out of little kids in the pool than I would be about that," he joked.

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