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New Cowichan Sportsplex field house now estimated to cost $2M

North Cowichan council wants more information on project
Cost of the field house at Cowichan Sportsplex now estimated at $2 million. (Citizen file photo)

The cost of building the new field house at the Cowichan Sportsplex has shot up again, and the project is currently facing a shortfall of $612,000, which doesn’t include contingency funding.

At North Cowichan’s council meeting on Sept. 6, staff recommended that the municipality enter into a contract to construct the long-anticipated field house with Ecklundson Construction for almost $2 million, the lowest of three bids, subject to ongoing negotiations that could see some cost reductions.

Staff also recommended that council approve the reallocation of capital funds in the municipality to the project to cover the budget shortfall.

But council voted to refer the issue to North Cowichan’s committee of the whole for further review.


Coun. Tek Manhas said the staff report on the field house didn’t have enough information for council to make an informed decision at the council meeting.

“We don’t have any floor plans, we don’t know if there are any contingencies, we don’t have anything,” he said.

“There’s nothing in [the report] for us to know what we are spending $2 million on.”

The Cowichan Sportsplex is a popular regional outdoor sports, fitness and recreation park covering more than 26 acres in the valley.

It is situated on land owned by North Cowichan, but the Sportsplex is widely used by many in the valley, and beyond.

It’s anticipated that the new field house will lead to the expansion of existing programs at the Sportsplex, and inaugurate new ones.

When the project was first envisioned in 2018, the total cost estimate for its construction was approximately $1.5 million.

The Investing in Canada Infrastructure Fund granted approximately $1 million towards the project in 2020, while local governments and other agencies committed to funding the rest.


The original concept plans for the facility called for a two-storey building that included team dressing rooms, public washrooms, a meeting space, office space and associated mechanical rooms.

But a cost analysis in 2020 of what was planned set the price tag of the facility’s construction at up to $2.2 million, so the project’s architects significantly modified the building to reduce costs.

In 2021, the updated building plan called for a single-floor structure in which the administration space would be eliminated, meeting space size reduced, and the layout reconfigured.

The construction of the new 3,040-square-foot building was estimated at $1.58 million.

In March 2021, council approved additional unallocated funds to increase the project funding to $1.64 million to cover the increasing costs for the construction of the building.

In November 2021, North Cowichan went to tender for the project and received one bid of $1,890,680.

Over the next several months, municipal staff and the Sportsplex executive team considered several options to bring the project within the $1.64-million budget.

In the end, North Cowichan decided that another reduction in the size of the building was the best path forward and in late 2022, the architect updated the drawings and tender documents for a 2,200-square-foot building.

“Currently, staff are having discussions with the architect and Ecklundson Construction to identify areas of construction that could realize cost savings,” the staff report said.

“The objective is not to change the general function or size of the building and to not incur significant redesign costs. Staff are optimistic we can reduce the project cost by $100,000 to $200,000.”

The report said further funding for the project is also anticipated from community groups and other local governments.

Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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