Work will soon begin on the much-anticipated Gathering Plaza project in Parksville Community Park.
City council voted to award a contract for approximately $1.6 million to Milestone Equipment Contracting Ltd. The contract includes construction of the plaza as well as adjacent infrastructure repairs.
The project aims to turn an already-popular area near the beach into a public space that includes a shaded seating area and an informal performance space, according to a report to council’s Feb. 22 meeting by Graham Gidden, manager of special projects.
A raised crosswalk is proposed to slow vehicle traffic and improve safety. The design includes spaces for food trucks and festivals, with opportunities for electrical power anticipated at three or four locations.
The tender amount is well above the project’s initial budget of $600,000, which is not surprising given that number dates back to 2017 and regional construction costs have soared by 40 to 60 per cent since that time, Gidden wrote.
Mayor Doug O’Brien congratulated staff on “surviving the perfect storm.”
“Between the pandemic, the supply chain issues, the contracting issues and all the other issues that have come forth and the seemingly high inflation of building materials and costs,” O’Brien said, “you somehow have made it to the other end with a proposal.”
Project works will also include demolition of existing hardscape, site preparation, tree protection, plaza and path paving, seating, tables and benches, new curbing, shade canopy, bike racks, waste receptacles, landscaping, stormwater management and drainage, and outdoor shower relocation.
Coun. Amit Gaur asked if there will be park closures during construction.
“The project is challenging because it’s located in the heart of the park, surrounding the existing washroom building,” Gidden said. “And that core area will be closed to the public at different scales during the project.”
The surrounding area, including Sandcastle Drive, will have closures between March and late June, when the project is anticipated to be substantially completed, Gidden said.
He added that construction fencing will be moved around to allow as much access through the area as possible, including washroom access. Portable washrooms will be installed, including accessible washrooms for people with disabilities.
The planned resurfacing of nearby sports courts and skatepark repairs will go ahead as planned, according to Gidden.
One of the two tennis courts will be converted to four dedicated pickleball courts. The play area will also be repaired, resurfaced and repainted to accommodate four dedicated pickleball courts, one tennis court with additional pickleball line painting for temporary use, according to a news release by the City of Parksville. Construction is set to begin in March and the courts will be closed, as well as periodic closure of the adjacent pathways.
A new washroom building will be constructed near the southwest corner of the large gravel parking lot behind the curling rink. The Kin Hut washroom will continue to be used.
The project budget also includes additional contingency funding for the costs of repairs and required updates to adjacent infrastructure and unexpected issues that often arise when undertaking underground excavation.
City staff identified additional funding options, which include allocation of $295,000 of Canada Community-Building Fund (Gas Tax) reserves to the Community Park sports courts project and reallocating sports courts project funds from 2022 to the Gathering Plaza project. Also, $25,500 of 2022 surplus funds will be carried forward from 2022 and allocated to the Gathering Plaza in the 2023-2027 Financial Plan, which will also see an increase of $40,000 in grant funding for the project, as well as an increase of $360,000 in the project budget.
The City of Parksville also received a Community, Culture and Recreation (CCR) infrastructure grant of $1,263,521, of which $802,336 was applied to the Outdoor Theatre, completed last summer, with $461,185 going to the Gathering Plaza.
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