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Council approves phase two of the Burnaby Lake Recreation Complex

Phase two will cost $156.4M and construction starts this summer and is expected to be completed in 2027

At council’s April 29 meeting, council members approved the second phase of the Burnaby Lake Recreation Complex project, one of the largest projects the city is currently undertaking. 

According to a report submitted to council, a design-build contract will be awarded to Ventana Construction Corporation for a total cost of $156,439,423, including $7,449,497 in GST. The report also mentioned a budget contingency allowance of $12,505,577, including $595,505 in GST.

Rendering of the exterior design of the Burnaby Lake Recreation Complex. Photo: City of Burnaby

Cost issues related to the project have been the subject of much discussion in council over the past few months, with the budget fluctuating and changing several times, along with the firms scheduled to design the complex. The city settled on the current architectural firm and construction company in December 2023. 

Sarmad Al-Mashta, principal architect at Architecture 49, presented the new design on behalf of Ventana Construction and Architecture 49 during the April 29 meeting. 

According to Al-Mashta, the design aims to allow easy access to pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles and has gentle slopes to accommodate site elevation. The design features include a covered pedestrian crossing on Kensington Avenue and vehicle access points at the existing traffic lights on Kensington Avenue and Joe Sakic Avenue. The design also includes 260 parking stalls, comprising 80 underground and 180 surface parking stalls. It will also include electric vehicle and bike charging stations. 

A covered pedestrian crossing, not an overpass, will connect it to the Christine Sinclair complex. However, the crossing’s design drew some comments from council members.

Rendering of the covered pedestrian crossing. Photo: City of Burnaby

I think the structure itself would be a visual distraction for drivers and just looking at the drawing, that shade would possibly obscure people and make it very unsafe for pedestrians,” said Coun. Daniel Tetrault. 

Coun. Richard Lee asked about the viability of an overpass, to which Raymond Afan, senior project manager with the city, responded, “Early on in the project, we did investigate the possibility of an overpass; it didn’t prove to be feasible cost-wise. We were coming in on costs anywhere between $16-25 million. It’s very cost-prohibitive.” 

Lee also asked about the possibility of an underpass, to which Afan replied, “It’s actually scary even to look and investigate something like that because of the costs.” 

The project’s cost also sparked some discussion during the meeting. 

“We presented to council last December an estimated contract value of $240,900,000. We are happy to inform you that we are able to maintain this contract value,” Afan said.  

Rendering of the 50-metre pool. Photo: City of Burnaby

Coun. Pietro Calendino commented on the cost, saying that residential developments have lower costs. 

“I’ve asked this for the last five years; that’s why we had a couple of iterations for this project,” Calendino said, “When I see a price which is double what private developers do, it makes me worried that we’re being cheated.” 

However, representatives of the construction company reassured council that the budget is well within the current market rate. 

“When it comes to this type of project, it is significantly different than residential construction; the specifications are different,” Tyler Pasquill, vice president of pre-construction with Ventana, said. “If you compare this to other recreation projects, the pricing is quite in line with that.” 

Rendering of the NHL-sized hockey arena. Photo: City of Burnaby

Mayor Mike Hurley also expressed concerns about the cost. 

“This is the final cost, right?” Because I keep going to meetings these days where things go up 35%, 40%. So I just want to be sure of that,” Hurley said. 

Other project design features will include an NHL-sized arena with a capacity of 270 spectators and additional viewers from the gallery. The complex will also include a natatorium comprising two pools, a combined 25-metre and leisure pool, a 50-metre pool, and a hot tub. 

Rendering of the combined 25-metre and leisure pool. Photo: City of Burnaby

Al-Mashta mentioned that the 25-metre pool will be accessible for all ages and abilities. However, he did not say whether the 50-metre pool will be accessible to athletes or pool users with physical disabilities. Al-Mashta added that 750 spectators can watch competitions from the second floor or the pool deck level. He said this would be Burnaby’s first indoor facility with one, three, and five-metre diving boards.

This piece was made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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