Construction is set to begin on the site of the future home of the University of Victoria’s Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities (CARSA).
Tom Smith, UVic’s director of facilities management, says he anticipates fencing around the property will be up by the end of February, and work on the site will start soon after.
“It’s been a long time coming and we’re thrilled with the fact that we’re finally going to proceed,” he said, referring to Saanich council delaying approving the project on two different occasions, which pushed the university’s construction timeline back more than a year.
The most recent hiccup, Smith says, came when the project was put to tender earlier in the winter, and its cost rose by $4.3 million.
Additional funds were secured from the university’s parking reserve fund, and from the athletics, recreation and food services department budgets. The university board of governors approved the new project budget last week.
Now with a price tag of $77 million, the combined athletics centre and contentious five-level parkade, has a tentative opening date set for April 2015.
CARSA and the parking garage will be built atop an existing parking lot, meaning students and staff will lose at least 234 parking spaces on campus until the parkade construction is complete.
“We’ve got a series of signs already prepared waiting to go up that will direct students to other lots. We’ve got vacant parking spaces around campus, they’re just not as convenient,” Smith said.
Adding to the mix of construction in the area, the District of Saanich is optimistic upgrades to McKenzie Avenue, from Shelbourne Street to Finnerty Road, will begin in the spring or early summer.
Brad Ormiston, project manager, says Saanich is just finalizing the detailed design of the project before it’s put out to tender.
He expects roadwork to last four or five months. Upgrades to the road are set come in two phases, with work crews ideally running at the same time, Ormiston said.
The first phase, which will be done by Saanich, will see upgrades along McKenzie from Tuscany Village to Gordon Head Road and the entrance to UVic.
The roadway, running some 800 metres between intersections, will lose one westbound lane to accommodate new bike lanes on either side of the road.
The second phase, which will be put to tender, will see McKenzie widened between McGill and Finnerty roads. New bike lanes, left turn lanes and grassy medians will be installed, a traffic light at a new intersection (Phoenix Road at McKenzie) will be built, and the traffic light at Finnerty will be replaced by a traffic circle.
Smith says accesses in and out of UVic won’t be impacted by construction of the CARSA or McKenzie Avenue projects.
CARSA will be a 17,685-square-metre complex including a 2,100-seat gym, a four-court field house, an elevated running track and climbing centre. It will also be home to CanAssist, a UVic-based organization that develops technologies and services for people living with disabilities.
Saanich council sent UVic back to the drawing board twice in 2011, denying approval of development permits due to a lack of quality public consultation.