Port Alberni council ponders new pool

It will take another 10 years before ground breaks but planning for a new Alberni aquatic facility is starting now with a $24,000 feasibility study.

Parks and Recreation director Scott Kenny says that planning should start now for a new aquatic centre

The City of Port Alberni hasn’t had a new aquatic centre since Echo Pool was built in 1967, to celebrate Canada’s centennial. But that may change in the next decade after city council approved a feasibility study to examine a new or upgraded pool.

The $24,000 study will take six months to complete and be underwritten with money from the city’s land sale reserve fund.

According to a report to council by parks and recreation director Scott Kenny, the study will ultimately produce three schematics: a modified existing facility, a new facility attached to the existing one, and a whole new facility on the Echo lands.

The preferred location for the facility is land next to existing pool, the report noted.

Past council’s inquired about a new centre several times in the past decade, Kenny said.

The idea never advanced beyond discussion to a conceptual drawing stage though.

The feasibility study will provide detailed conceptual plans and cost projections that would act as a guide for future budget discussions. If approved however, ground breaking would not take place for at least a decade, Kenny noted in his report.

He stressed that the study was not a springboard for a referendum.

Instead, it will provide detail to be considered as part of that process.

Kenny pointed to the development of the Alberni Valley Multiplex, the planning of which took a decade before its construction started.

The new high school under construction on Roger Street comes into play as well. “It is also important to plan for enhanced use of the Echo Centre facility,” Kenny noted.

In the initial information gathering stage, the study proponent would meet with facility stakeholders to determine needs and interests.

They’d also examine existing reports and sketch out demographic projections.

And a tour of other communities’ facilities would be undertaken as well.

The pool underwent major renovations to its mechanical system and baby pool filtration system last year. The facility has been a source of controversy for the past two years, after members of the public objected to an extended closure in the summer of 2010. When the parks and rec department proposed a similar closure for 2011 in order to cut about $60,000 from its departmental budget, the public again balked.

City council has since changed its tune and said it will find funds elsewhere in the budget to make up the difference, and the pool will close for a short maintenance period only.

The city has not yet approved its draft five-year financial plan.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

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