News » Whistler

Pemberton council knew of waterpark delays, says Mark Blundell

Waterpark now expected to open August 4



Pemberton council wants to know why a waterpark won't open as scheduled on June 1, but according to an alternate director with the regional district, they already do.

Mark Blundell, a former Village councillor and now an alternate director for Area C of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, called Pique on Thursday morning in response to a story about council's request for an explanation as to why the waterpark won't open when they expected it to.

Construction of the park is expected to commence on July 4, with a conservative estimate for completion of August 4, although officials with the regional district hope it can open sooner.

"I sit on the PVUS (Pemberton Valley Utilities and Services) board and two of the members of council also sit on that board, mayor (Jordan Sturdy) being one, and Al LeBlanc being the other," Blundell said in an interview. "They were given a very good explanation why the water park has been held up at the previous meeting before council."

The meeting in question took place on June 13. At that meeting, where Sturdy and LeBlanc were present, Blundell alleges that SLRD Administrator Paul Edgington offered a "half hour" explanation of why it took so long for construction on the waterpark to get going.

Edgington confirmed in an interview that he explained at a PVUS meeting why the water park project was delayed.

"I explained how what I understood had occurred and I also advised them that we'd been issued the construction permit," he said.

"I told them from what I understood from talking to RecTec Industries (the Delta-based designer of the waterpark), that they had submitted drawings and things to VCH in early April and that in a letter that came to me after we'd left on Friday, I had been advised by the Squamish office of Vancouver Coastal, they didn't get those drawings or an application until kind of mid-May."

Asked how he feels that Pemberton council is now publicly demanding an explanation from the regional district, Edgington had no comment.

In an e-mailed response, Edgington said the water park construction was delayed because of the length of time needed for issuance of a construction permit by Vancouver Coastal Health.

RecTec Industries submitted 95 per cent and 100 per cent design drawings for approval to the health authority's office in Vancouver in the week of April 4 to 8.

Construction on the waterpark site began on May 2 but RecTec, which did not return a request for comment, could not proceed past the excavation phase because it hadn't yet gotten a construction permit.

On May 24, RecTec informed the regional district that Vancouver Coastal Health was still reviewing the drawings. On June 6, the health authority requested a letter from the regional district as the project proponent. That letter was reviewed and returned on June 7.

On June 8, the regional district participated in a conference call with Vancouver Coastal Health and RecTec. On June 13, Coastal Health advised the regional district that it had been issued a construction permit.

Sturdy said in an interview that there are "conflicting stories" as to why the project will not be completed on time. He didn't seem satisfied with the explanation he was offered at the PVUS meeting.

"I don't know that I would characterize it as an explanation," he said. "There was some information supplied but there was a lot of uncertainty as to what happened when and why.

"There's three different parties here and the focus was not necessarily simply on the regional district, but there's RecTec and Vancouver Coastal Health, and those parties had to coordinate to ensure we hit the June 1 deadline."

For its part, Vancouver Coastal Health said it has "not delayed this project in any way." A spokesperson said in an e-mail that they received the waterpark plans on May 16 and provided a response on May 27.

The submission, they said, was incomplete and lacking design details that are needed as part of the "standard practice" for pools and spray parks. Coastal Health requested more details on these aspects but, according to them, did not get a complete response to its request, and both the regional district and the landscape architect were contacted about that.

When construction is completed, the regional district will still have to obtain an operating permit once the health authority is satisfied that the spray park complies with pool regulations.

An operating permit is a requirement under a new Pool Regulation that came out in October 2010.