At least one elected official is coming out against the idea of building a new $3 million outdoor pool at the recreation centre.
Jeremy Evans, a longstanding councillor with the Village of Keremeos and council appointed member for the recreation commission for the last eight years, said building a new outdoor pool at this time will tie the municipalities hands 50 years into the future.
“The liner we could have afforded. (Memorial Park) is a better location. Personally, an outdoor pool up there is just yucky. It’s right by the highway. If we did that (built new) we’d have a 50-year pool, we would never get an indoor pool at the same location. The better idea was to line the (existing) pool and in 15 to 20 years we might have the support for an indoor pool,” he said.
The issue surfaced at Keremeos Village council Monday when directors were asked to rescind a previous support letter for a $500,000 grant application that would have seen the existing pool overhauled. About $139.000 would need to be used from the pool reserves if the federal/provincial grant application was successful.
In the last 10 days a second option came forward with the support of the recreation commission that would see the new $3 million pool funded heavily through a grant application of $2.2 million with local taxpayers having to put in $800, 000. The local portion would come from reserves from the rec centre and the pool and the remaining approximate $400,000 to $600,000 would need to be borrowed. A referendum to borrow the money would need to pass.
“We would totally drain our reserves not just for the pool but our entire rec centre,” Evans said. “With the liner we had money in reserves to cover the cost, but we have to go to referendum to borrow,” he said.
Sherry Philpott-Adhikary raised concerns about the cost of decommissioning the old pool in Memorial Park, and the impact of building an indoor pool.
Jason Wiebe, who is acting Mayor as Manfred Bauer is away, said in his talks with Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen staff that he was told converting a new outdoor pool into an indoor pool of sorts would be possible. He was not aware if decommissioning the pool was in the cost estimates.
“In the proposal is the possibility to make an enclosure. It might not be fully enclosed like an indoor pool would be but it would be able to be used longer. It’s kind of a greenhouse plastic, glass,” he said.
Evans quipped back, “the same was said of the ice rink.”
Evans was the sole member of Keremeos council who voted against providing support letter for the grant application so it was approved and will be included in the grant application that will be made this week.
Tim Roberts, Area G (Rural Keremeos/Hedley) director and George Bush, Area B (Cawston) director told the Review last Thursday after the RDOS meeting they were 100 per cent in support of building a new outdoor pool at the recreation centre.
Roberts said he was part of the rec commission in 2006, which at that time wanted to build an indoor pool. He knew he couldn’t afford the tax increase at that time, nor now most likely, but didn’t want to see any money go into the pool at Memorial Park.
“I was totally against putting all the money ($500,000) in the hole downtown. We talked to staff, asked a lot of questions to get the information. We asked, ‘can you be certain the pool will hold out,’ and we were told, ‘every year we have water from the river rushing down there.’ They haven’t done geological studies so we don’t know what it’s like for sure down there,” he said.
Bush said he’s in favour of a new outdoor pool if a grant can be obtained and although he could afford the cost of an indoor pool he recognizes many can’t in the valley.
“We feel it’s our responsibility to go to the local constituents to see what they want to do. This isn’t going to cost any more to operate a year. It’ll probably cost less because it’s higher efficiency and won’t have the problems,” he said.
The Review will continue to follow this story.
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