Nanaimo city council voted to apply for grant to offset cost to replace failing air handling system at Beban Park pool with new, more efficient system. (News Bulletin file photo)

City hoping for $680,000 grant to replace ventilation system at Beban Park pool

City to apply for federal and provincial money to help with $945,000 HVAC project

If a City of Nanaimo grant application gets approval, the city will save nearly $700,000 when it replaces heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems at Beban Park.

Nanaimo city council voted unanimously Monday to apply for a $686,840 grant to replace the Beban Park pool’s two air handling units, one of which has already failed and the other is close to the end of its service life. Both units will be replaced with upgraded technology: a single heat-recovery, de-humidification system that can remove condensation and correct issues with the pool surface air quality at a cost of $945,400. The city’s share of the bill, if it receives the grant, will be $258,560.

The grant money for these projects comes from the federal government through Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program and from the province through the CleanB.C. Communities Fund. To be eligible, projects must be for public use or benefit and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by increasing capability to manage renewable energy, improve access to clean energy transportation, raise energy efficiency of building and generation of clean energy and must be completed within five years. Deadline for grant applications is Nov. 12.

The Beban pool upgrade was the second and more expensive of two project options considered for grants by council. The first, less expensive option, was to apply for an $80,000 grant to replace Oliver Woods Community Centre’s natural gas-fired hot water boiler with an electrically heated unit. The total bill for the boiler replacement is $116,000, of which the city’s share would have been $36,000.

Council voted unanimously for the larger grant application for the Beban Park project, but not without some concerns raised by councillors.

“I’m not always convinced ‘go big or go home’ is a wise strategy,” said Coun. Ian Thorpe. “I’m not going to vote against the motion, but I personally would have preferred option one. It’s a smaller ask. If successful it would allow us to use some of our funds for other projects, whereas, option two, even if we’re successful, we’re still going to have to dip into reserves to fund this, if I’m reading the report correctly.”

Coun. Don Bonner raised concerns about how much greenhouse gas would be saved and about ongoing operational costs.

Michelle Miller, city senior financial analyst, confirmed operational costs for the new air handling system at Beban Park pool will be “much” less than the existing system.

“So I believe that there is a lot of opportunity to reduce GHGs and be a lot more operationally efficient as well,” Miller said.

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