New Echo pool in Alberni needs contemplation

With a pair of meetings at Echo Centre earlier this week, the process to replace Echo Pool has begun.

It was nice to see cooler heads prevail during the evening public session, with a positive vibe permeating the room—unlike some other public meetings that have occurred in the past 12 months. People were asking questions, listening for answers, contributing input; but not automatically shouting down the plan.

We say that is a good start.

Of course, there are many questions surrounding the idea, the biggest being ‘how much it will cost’, and the next being ‘who will pay for it’.

If we want bigger, newer, brighter and different—like the Nanaimo wave pool, where many Port Alberni residents profess to go swimming—we have to accept the fact that these things cost money.

The quartet of consultants at the public meeting on Tuesday said similar facilities built in similar-sized communities to Port Alberni have cost about $15 million, paid for in part with federal infrastructure funding. But that funding is no longer as plentiful as it was when the ‘shovel-ready projects’ philosophy took off a couple of years ago. It’s something to keep in mind.

The pool we have now is nearly 44 years old. It needs to be replaced—period.

Through these consultation sessions we have a say in how we’d like that to be done. People have to show up if they want to be heard.

And hopefully those who do show up will refrain from cloaking the process in negativity.

— Alberni Valley News