COVID-19 causes delays in Burnaby arena's construction

Construction on at least one major civic building is seeing delays as a result of COVID-19, according to a staff report.

The report, which was presented in council this week, notes most of the excavation and off-site work for the South Burnaby Arena has been completed. Now, crews are working on laying concrete and working with reinforced steel, and the project is currently expected to be completed by fall 2021.

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But according to the report, that could be pushed back with physical distancing guidelines still in effect, though the report doesn’t specify how long it could be delayed.

Mayor Mike Hurley said the work there hasn’t required too many people onsite so far, but that will eventually change.

“It will definitely affect the sub-trades, as they start to move in,” he said.

The city also has several projects that are awaiting construction start dates in the next year.

The Burnaby Lake arena and pool is still slated for a summer 2021 start on construction, with a total construction time estimated at 36 months. The Confederation Park community centre is expected to see construction start by spring 2021. And construction on the Laurel Street works yard is expected to begin this summer.

“Depending on how long this thing hangs in here, I could see those (completion) dates being pushed back … six months to a year,” Hurley said.

During Monday evening’s regular meeting, Coun. Pietro Calendino raised the issue of public consultations for the Cameron community centre and library, asking when that might occur. He said he’s heard from some community members who wanted to offer their input on the issue.

Ed Kozak, director of planning, said the consultations will begin “as soon as we can begin to reach out to the community,” citing the city’s new reopening plan.

“We are working on some of the material in the background so that, when we are able to engage with the community, that work will be complete and we’ll be able to proceed quickly,” Kozak said. “We are waiting for some of our existing centres to come back on stream before we do that outreach.”

According to the reopening plan, which was approved by council later in the evening, community centres will begin limited reopenings in Stage 3, which runs from June 1 to Sept. 30.

Kozak said the city will hold as much of the engagement as possible online due to COVID-19 but added there will “never be a replacement for in-person interaction.”

Coun. Dan Johnston, however, said he wasn’t keen on waiting too long for the city to be able to do in-person consultations. He said it would “be a shame” to have the project delayed too long to accommodate in-person consultations.

“You may not get your perfect picture, but I think we owe the citizens the opportunity to give input electronically if they can’t do it in person. We may be several months (away), the way people are behaving in some areas,” he said.

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