VERNON - Contstruction of the Greater Vernon Athletics Park was a million dollars over budget, according to final costs revealed by the regional district this week.
The sports facility, which opened last summer, ended up costing $8.6 million. Greater Vernon voters approved borrowing up to $7.5 million in a 2013 referendum.
Regional district manager of finance Stephen Banmen says in a media release several factors impacted the inflated price.
“One of the issues we encountered was at the time of the initial site excavation there were areas of clay soils found that hadn’t been identified in the geotechnical analysis, resulting in a greater volume of excavation and ultimately higher costs," Banmen says in the release.
Market conditions also played a role in the higher price, he says.
“The cost estimates for the construction of the building were completed in 2012, when the building market was competitive. Over the next couple of years the Okanagan experienced dramatic cost escalation in market conditions, which despite our competitive bidding processes resulted in higher construction costs for the amenities building,” Banmen says.
The initial budget of $7.5 million was amended in 2015 to reflect the higher than expected costs, he says. Also included in the updated budget was $340,000 to expand the amenities building to include additional shower facilities. The provincial government provided $50,000 towards this portion of the project.
Seventy per cent of the additional budget was drawn from reserves, with the remainder secured through grants and general revenue, he says.
The park is mostly finished and Greater Vernon Advisory Committee chair Juliette Cunningham says it is used heavily by the community.
“Every time I pass by the athletics park I see it being used by people of all ages. Lots of walkers and runners are taking advantage of the low-impact surface and beautiful location,” Cunningham says.
Right now, the Vernon Athletics Association Track and Field Club, School Distruct 22 and local soccer clubs are making use of the facility.
“It is a beautiful facility that provides access to outdoor turf earlier in the season, when the natural fields aren’t ready for use,” executive director of the North Okanagan Youth Soccer AssociationMarina Korberg says. “The artificial field also helps take the pressure off of our natural fields so that we can maximize our programming without overusing our natural fields and creating safety issues.”
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