Work on Courtenay rec centre expansion almost ready to start

The long-awaited Lewis Centre expansion and renovation is almost underway.

The long-awaited Lewis Centre expansion and renovation is almost underway.

On Aug. 7, crews will begin setting up the construction fencing that will surround the work area. The real work begins Aug. 15, when the contractor will break ground on the expansion project.

“It’s been a long road with lots of planning and consultation with user groups,” said Randy Wiwchar, the City’s director of community services. “We’ve been tweaking the design for months trying to get it just right.”

The project requires fencing in and around the construction zone, including part of the parking lot. Patrons are asked to use extra caution in the parking lot once the fencing goes up and seek alternate parking elsewhere if possible including at Lewis Park, Simms Park, the LINC Youth Centre, and on nearby Puntledge Road and Tsolum Road.

The project will include an 11,000-square-foot expansion, to be built from August 2012 to April 2013. Once the expansion is complete, work will begin on renovations to portions of the existing facility. The entire project is scheduled to be complete in September 2013.

Improvements will include a new wellness centre that is nearly four times as large as the existing weight room, new large and small multi-purpose rooms, increased accessibility, storage, as well as better energy efficiency and ventilation.

Wiwchar noted the collaborative aspect of the design process resulted in some key design decisions.

“Working with staff who are in the building every day, and representatives from groups like the squash club and the accessibility committee, gave us some really great feedback and suggestions.”

One example was the decision to build a mezzanine in the squash court area.

“That idea was actually from one of the squash players,” stated Wiwchar. “It’s going to serve two purposes; one, it’s going to create a new meeting area for squash players and other groups away from high-traffic areas, and two, it’s going to deflect some of the noise from the squash courts away from the front office. ”

The $5.4-million project has received $400,000 in funding from the Province of BC’s Community Recreation Program. The City is actively seeking other funding opportunities to help reduce borrowing costs.

While the project will undoubtedly come with challenges, particularly with parking, Wiwchar notes the end result will be a much improved, user-friendly facility.

“We’re going to continue to do our best to provide great service and programs to the community during construction,” said Wiwchar. “We look forward to being able to give our patrons a beautiful new and improved Lewis Centre at the end of it.”

For more information, visit www.courtenay.ca or call 250-334-4441.

— City of Courtenay

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