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'Early work' starts on Lac La Biche's new pool project

First stages begin on $46 million aquatic centre in Lac La Biche, completion set for 2026

LAC LA BICHE - Construction fencing is now in place in several areas at Lac La Biche's Bold Center. The fencing is the first step in the construction process that will see a $46 million aquatic centre added to the 200,000 square foot recreation complex.

The fencing is covering about 90,000 square feet of area around the building, and is affecting access, parking, and traffic around the Bold Center.

Lac La Biche County spokesperson Jihad Moghrabi says the fencing and some demolition work is termed as "early works" in the aquatic centre project that is now expected to be completed in the fall of 2026.

The new pool, complete with water slides, a lazy river, a competition length, six-lane pool, saunas and viewing areas, is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2025. Price costs on the new aquatic centre have more than tripled in the eight years spent planning began on the project, going from an estimated $15 million to $27 million, then $39 million last spring to the latest $46 million price tag announced in October of 2023. Municipal officials say the final budget number will not increase as work will be done within the final amount.

Additional "early work" changes taking place over the coming months will include relocating the existing water main, installing new sections of sanitary and storm sewers, the demolition and removal of some landscaped areas around the Bold Center, as well as some pavement structures including portions of sidewalk and the front entrance traffic circle. Benches and outdoor seating areas at the front of the building — and the large, wooden pergola above the main entrance will also be removed.

“Early works” aims to deliver a clean site free of obstructions that is ready for the main phase of construction," said Moghrabi.

The large feather art installation, as well as several unique metalwork sculptures, all created by Plamondon-based artist Melanie Braund, that were erected in front of the Bold Center in 2019 will be retained and relocated, said Moghrabi.

An exact location for where the pieces will be set up was not provided.

Following the completion of the "early works", the main phase of construction is expected to begin in summer of 2024 and will take approximately 24 months. The main construction will begin with excavation, pilings, and foundations, followed by the steel superstructure into the following months.

Detours, side-road closed

With the current fencing in place, several access points to the Bold Center have been modified, including the internal roadway on the property from the front parking lot to the rear parking area.  That roadway, which was built when the Bold Center was constructed in 2011, now sits in the footprint of the new aquatic centre building, which will attach to the front of the Bold Center and stretch to cover an area south of the current building. With that laneway blocked, municipal officials are encouraging residents to use a newly-built roadway that links the facility's rear parking lot to Nipewan Road. Parking at the front of the building can still be access through 91 Avenue.

Moghrabi says there will be continued disruptions around the Bold Center site during each phase of the project. By the end of April, he expects the construction fencing to block up to 150,000 square feet of the site, with most of that area falling to the south of the Bold Center. Realizing that the work will create some obstacles for residents and visitors to the Bold Center area, Moghrabi says regular updates will be issued to the public through each step.

"An updated construction logistics plan illustrating the changes, plus adjustments to parking lot and main entrance operation, will be shared ahead of time," he said, appreciating the patience and understanding of residences in advance of the on-going project.

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