Editorial: Watching the pool costs

Ever since the City of Victoria announced plans to replace the Crystal Pool, taxpayers have been having flashbacks to the Johnson Street Bridge project and its ballooning pricetag. Having watched $63 million mushroom into $105 million, city residents are understandably wary of promises with dollar signs attached.

Wariness turned to alarm when the watchdog group Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria suggested that the pool construction could be closer to $90 million than the $69.4 million that was budgeted.

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Stay calm, the city warned: The planning isn’t finished, and projected costs are within the original estimate.

The grumpy group cites reports from consultants Advicas Group Consultants and Ross Templeton Associates that suggest the current design could add $8.8 million to $11.1 million to the $35.1-million estimate for the construction component of the building. The watchdogs say other omissions could boost the cost to $90 million.

Mayor Lisa Helps promises this won’t be a repeat of the bridge fiasco. That project was only 30 per cent designed when it was sent out to contract. All the design work for the pool will be finished before its contracts go out, probably by the end of this year.

Any design adjustments to keep the cost in line will be made ahead of time. The city also says it has built in hefty contingency amounts.

Even with those assurances, Victorians will be keeping an eye out for stormy weather ahead.

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