Yellowknife's new aquatic centre will cost $4.85M annually to operate — 7 times its expected revenues

A concept design for the new aquatic centre in Yellowknife. Construction began last year and is expected to be complete in 2024. (City of Yellowknife - image credit)
A concept design for the new aquatic centre in Yellowknife. Construction began last year and is expected to be complete in 2024. (City of Yellowknife - image credit)

The estimated annual cost to operate Yellowknife's new aquatic centre will be almost seven times the revenue it's expected to bring in.

During a city council committee meeting Monday, Grant White, the director of community services with the city, said revenues for the new facility are anticipated to be a about $722,582 annually while expenses are anticipated to be around $4.85 million.

That amounts to a cost-recovery rate of about 15 per cent.

The new facility will replace the Ruth Inch Memorial Pool. According to the city budget, it will cost just over $2 million to operate the Ruth Inch pool this year. Its revenues will cover about 26 per cent of that cost.

White said wages, benefits and utilities will be, by far, the biggest costs for the new facility.

"We are constantly re-evaluating and seeing ways to make sure that we can increase our revenues or decrease our expenses to make that balance," White said.

City of Yellowknife
City of Yellowknife

The building has been designed to be as efficient as possible, White said. That includes reducing blind spots to lower the amount of staffing needed to be on deck at any time.

White says the design is also expected to exceed the National Energy Building Code by about 17 per cent, "so we're quite happy with that."

Plans for solar panels on the new building have been scrapped, he added, as they've been deemed not cost effective.

However, the building is being designed so that when panels become "viable," they can be easily added, White said.

Sheila Bassi-Kellett, the city's manager, said during Monday's meeting that the new pool is much-needed, to improve services the city can provide for residents.

"Let's face it, the swimming pool right now is our most popular recreation facility. It is used constantly. We have so much demand for enhanced and increased services," she said.

"This was something we heard loud and clear through the stages of public consultation and engagement."

The city said it will still be proceeding with hiring Clark Builders for the new facility.

Bassi-Kellett said the city is locked into a $71-million price tag.

In November 2021, residents of Yellowknife voted through a city referendum to support the city borrowing $10 million toward the completion of the proposed new aquatic center.

The rest of the project is being paid for by federal grant funding, and other government funding streams along with some city savings.

Construction of the facility started in 2022 and is expected to be complete in 2024.

Bassi-Kellett said the city could not comment whether there were any concerns with the facility being completed on time.