The Aquarena, built in 1977, is scheduled to host swimming, diving and artistic swimming events in the 2025 Canada Summer Games. (Katie Breen/CBC)
Construction work at the Aquarena for the 2025 Canada Summer Games is taking longer than expected, Memorial University says, and its reopening to the public has been delayed by a full year.
The university announced the delay Monday afternoon. Jordan Wright, who heads MUN's Canada Games work, says there have been unexpected challenges.
"As with any construction job, big or small, I think that's happening right now, you run into things relating to labour availability, supply chain challenges or just some unforeseen conditions on site," Wright said Monday.
The Aquarena, on MUN's campus in St. John's, is set to host swimming, diving and artistic swimming events. The facility was built for the 1977 Games — the last time Newfoundland and Labrador hosted the summer sporting competition.
Its doors closed to the public in September for upgrades and was initially expected to reopen this September. That date has been pushed back an additional year.
The news comes a week after 2025 Canada Games Host Society CEO Karen Sherriffs told CBC News projects are on schedule for August 2025. A potential delay for the Aquarena's public reopening was not mentioned, but university spokesperson Sandy Woolfrey-Fahey told CBC News at the time that more details about the project's status would be coming soon.
Wright said they still intend to be ready ahead of the Games — which begin Aug. 8, 2025 — and expect a substantial part of the construction will be done in the late spring of next year.
Wright said they are working with the contractor to see when athletes will be able to use the Aquarena for training ahead of the Games. However, it won't be open to the public until after the Games wrap up.
"Obviously, there's an element of operational readiness of getting the pool up and running, making sure the building systems are working well, et cetera. So obviously all of that also needs to happen before the Games," he said.
Wright also said the project is still on budget, which is $24.6 million.
"We are happy to report that we're still on budget on this project."
The Aquarena's closure has meant the St. John's Legends Swim Club hasn't been able to train at the only Olympic-size swimming pool in the province.
"While the news of delays is disappointing, our swimmers are resilient. They have adapted to the loss of their home pool and are doing their very best to train hard for this season's goals and then on to Canada Games, for those eligible," Legends president Chris Young said in an emailed statement to CBC News.
The Aquarena is the only Olympic-sized pool in Newfoundland and Labrador. (Submitted by Sandy Woolfrey-Fahey/Rich Blenkinsopp)
Without access to the Aquarena, the team has been using facilities around St. John's.
Young said they're grateful to the city for allowing its members to have access to other swimming facilities to train in.
"Not having access to a 50-metre pool or diving blocks is not ideal so we are anxious to dive in to the modernized facility once the renovations are complete," he added.