Lewis Centre project ‘steadily’ moving along

The foundation and framing contracts were recently awarded to local firm Muchalat Projects and work on the foundation is set to start

The expansion and renovation of the Courtenay Recreation Lewis Centre is progressing to the next stage.

The foundation and framing contracts were recently awarded to local firm Muchalat Projects and work on the foundation is set to start on Thursday, Sept. 20.

“The project is moving steadily along,” said Randy Wiwchar, the City’s director of community services. “Crews have been digging and moving soil over the last few weeks, and laying a gravel bed for the new foundation. The next phase is going to see the building start to take shape.”

The 11,000 square foot expansion will include a new wellness centre and multi-purpose room, as well as new change rooms, showers and an accessible washroom. The expansion is being constructed higher than the original building, to meet the City’s requirements outlined in its Floodplain Management Bylaw.

Contractors have also made changes to part of Lewis Park.

“We were able to utilize the soil from the excavation and use it on site to help level some low-lying areas of the park,” explained Wiwchar. “It was a huge cost-savings for the project and it will help make these areas less prone to flooding.”

While the project team had hoped to save as much mature landscaping as possible, two large trees, a maple and spruce, recently had to be removed. “Our arborist felt there was a risk that these trees could come down,” noted Wiwchar.

Crews will be planting new trees in the park at a later date, but Wiwchar acknowledged the trees will be hard to replace. “We hated to lose them, but safety always has to come first, especially in a busy park like this,” he said.

The project team has also been dealing with the need to incorporate a covered area to replace the stage lost from the back of the existing building.

“This has been a challenge, because we just couldn’t find a design that worked on the new expansion,” explained Wiwchar. “There wasn’t enough room between the building and the ball diamonds, and we were restricted by the skate park and the parking lot on either side. We’ve come up with an alternate solution, which is to incorporate a new separate covered bandstand in the park, just north-west of the expansion.”

The Lewis Centre expansion is estimated to be complete in April 2013, to be followed by renovations of portions of the existing building until September 2013.

Funding assistance to help reduce borrowing costs for the $5.4 million project has been committed from a variety of sources, including $1,000,000 from the Federal Gas Tax Fund, as well as a $400,000 Community Recreation Grant from the Province of BC. The City is actively pursuing other funding opportunities.

For more information on the project, visit www.courtenay.ca.

— City of Courtenay

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