Ontario Construction Report staff writer
After intensive planning, value engineering and community consultation, Port Hope’s Jack Burger Sports Complex will be reopening this fall as a revitalized community hub.
The $6 million project will bring the original building, constructed in 1978, to current accessibility and maintenance standards. Architects Tillman Ruth Robinson designed the project and Peak Engineering and Construction Ltd., is the general contractor.
“There were a number of items lacking including family change rooms, designed for fathers with daughters or mothers with sons for instance, and accessible change rooms,” said Jim McCormick, the municipality’s acting parks and recreation director. “The pool also required significant upgrades to the bowl and deck.”
McCormack says design decisions were made based on input from a steering committee and extensive community consultation, including an open house and a period of public comment. He says such a process is normal for the municipality and both creates community buy-in for projects and allows for other insights that might otherwise be overlooked.
In the end, the project had to be tendered twice after the first design came in significantly over budget. McCormack says tough decisions and value engineering opportunities helped attain a functional and affordable second design.
The complex’s overall footprint expanded by 13,000 sq. ft. even after 6,000 sq. ft. of the old structure was torn down as part of the pool’s reconstruction. “The aquatic and common areas were our main focus,” McCormack said. “Both sides of the facility had separate entrances so we’ve created one large, open lobby that will relieve congestion on both sides and make reception and customer service more visible and accessible.”
A multi-purpose room has been added on the main floor, along with new and highly accessible change rooms and a large storage area. The pool area has been gutted, and the pool bowl and decks resurfaced with an epoxy finish for better grip. New safety rails and an upgraded HVAC system have been installed.
“A new mezzanine overlooks the lobby and the pool and the viewing area has been enlarged. On the rink side the spectator seating area has been made accessible with ramps and a viewing platform to provide an area within the rink space, rather than outside of it, for visitors who want the full event experience.”
Though the pool had to be closed for a year, the project team was able to keep the rink operational by changing its main access point and creating a driveway and drop off point at a temporary entrance. Four adjacent accessible parking spots were also added. “We installed netting at the back of the rink as well where people entered to ensure safety during activities and laid rubber flooring to deal with the snow tracked in.”
Additional challenges were created by a delay in the steel for the new construction but McCormack says the team was able to adjust the schedule and that tarping and heating kept things moving as much as possible.
Of the design McCormack says, despite the original rink still being there, people will not recognize the building now for its openness and transparency. “There is glass along the west and south that connects the activity inside with the outdoors. Everything is open and transparent and looks new.”
McCormack says underlying the input from the consultation and design process was a desire for a wow factor but one that people could be proud of and that helped create a sense of community pride, rather than something that was showy or expensive.
With the pool set to open in September and an official grand opening set for October, McCormack says there are still small projects to be undertaken including updating the arena’s exterior and some internal renovations and shifting of spaces that will likely take place in the spring.