Dartmouth Sportsplex renos could cost more than $20M estimate

Pools squeezed for space as registration rush begins for fall lessons

Halifax regional council may have to shell out more money than originally estimated for the massive renovation coming to the Dartmouth Sportsplex.

Council is expected to award the tender for the project Tuesday. But while city officials thought last fall the work could be done for about $20,362,000, the lowest bid — from Marco Maritimes Ltd. — is 14 per cent more than that amount.

"I'm pretty confident in the bids that we've received back," said District 5 Coun. Sam Austin, adding all four bids the city received were in the $23-million to $24-million range.

"So, I think that tells us that our estimate was a little optimistic."

16-month closure

The Sportsplex was opened in 1982 and is showing its age. The renovations are expected to begin in late May or early June and will close much of the facility for approximately 16 months.

The hockey arena will reopen in September and is not being renovated. The major add-on will be a new gymnasium large enough for two basketball courts.

Additional exercise facilities will include refurbished racquetball courts, a new fitness centre, dance studio and several new additions to the existing swimming pool.

Included in the pool upgrades will be measures to make the pool more user friendly for people with mobility issues.

New multipurpose meeting rooms will also be built, many with exterior glass to highlight views overlooking Halifax harbour and the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge.

"We plan to provide a lot of ways for people to connect with the Dartmouth Sportsplex," said general manager Max Chauvin.

"We will have many new ways where people can get involved, including new programming options. We want to really provide options for youth in the community."

Chauvin hopes the work will begin and end on time. He's also hoping some of the risk involved, including the possibility of encountering acid bearing rock, is minimal.

If the project starts to exceed its budget, some areas of the renovation may have to be scaled back.