The reopening of Inuvik's pool at the Midnight Sun Complex has been postponed yet again as the town continues to deal with damage caused by thawing permafrost.
The pool has been closed for over 16 months and did not reopen this summer, as expected, due to delays getting repairs done.
According to Grant Hood, senior administrative officer for the Town of Inuvik, the town has discovered yet another issue with the pool. Thawing permafrost is shifting the ground underneath, causing significant leaks to the pipes and the pool's drainage system.
"We are just as frustrated as everyone else because we use the pool too," said Hood. "But sometimes you hit things in renovations… you find something that you didn't know about."
Ongoing pool problems
The pool, which cost $8 million to build and was completed in 2004, has been plagued with issues over the 17 years it has been open.
In 2018, the pool was shut down for about eight months due to leaks caused by the ground shifting below.
The pool closed again in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but never reopened. Hood says it's because the town discovered additional issues with the pool's pipes and realized it would be best to replace them altogether with new above-ground piping. The repairs were delayed as the town was waiting on funding to begin work replacing the pool's liner and plumbing.
Inuvik received funding in May, but hit another hurdle when workers needed to come do additional testing on the pool were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The testing was completed in August, resulting in the town discovering it would also need to replace the pool's drains.
The Midnight Sun Complex, in which the pool is located, has its fair share of problems too.
In 2008, the town of Inuvik sued the Yellowknife architect that designed the addition to the Midnight Sun Complex where the pool is located, alleging there were major flaws in the recreation centre's design, including faulty measurements for the roof.
According to court documents, the town claims that deficiencies in the design became quite clear in 2006 and years later when "during the winter months, water, moisture and condensation formed inside the facility at the roof line."
That resulted in water dripping into the facility which caused damage to the walls, interior, insulation and structure of the building.
Guy Architects said it's the town's fault there were flaws and launched a countersuit for payment it says it never received. However, that countersuit was dropped in 2019.
The lawsuit was scheduled to go to court before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but is now being settled out of court, according to Hood.
Long road ahead
Hood said the process of getting the new repair plans for the drains completed and approved isn't simple, but expects it to take a month once work begins. He said the good news is that most of the supplies needed to fix the pool have been shipped to Inuvik.
Although he knows everyone is frustrated, Hood is hopeful that these fixes will ensure the end to long-term pool closures.
He hopes to see the pool done by January.
"I just want to apologize that it's taking us this long," said Hood. "We are doing our best to get it back up and running, but we don't want to... close it again like it has [in the past]. We want to get this thing right."