The pool is a reality: Vanderhoof now has over $12 million committed for its future aquatic centre.
On July 5, federal, provincial, and local government officials gathered at Ferland Park to announce the contribution of $6 million from the federal Gas Tax Fund towards the proposed Vanderhoof Aquatic Centre.
“The Province of British Columbia is thrilled to support construction of a new aquatic centre that will ensure residents have access to recreational infrastructure for the benefit of everyone in the community,” Rustad said. “We are pleased to work with the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and the Federal Government to provide the District of Vanderhoof with a reliable source of funding for investments like this through the Gas Tax Agreement.”
The remainder of the pool’s estimated $12-million construction costs comes from regional organizations and governing bodies, local businesses, and Vanderhoof residents.
The aquatic centre has been a goal for the District of Vanderhoof for over 25 years as a much-needed facility for the community for both recreation and rehabilitation, states the district in a news release.
“This grant will allow us to complete a vision we have had for well over 25 years,” said Mayor Gerry Thiessen. “The Aquatic Centre will provide the Nechako Valley the opportunity to attract and retain residents of all ages to our region.
“We will have a facility that will give our area a great environment to learn to swim.”
The announcement was attended by over 100 community members, including representation from other contributing organizations such as Nak’azdli Whut’en, Northern Development Initiative Trust, Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund, and the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako.
It’s good news for Vanderhoof resident Angela Teichroeb and her 10-year-old daughter Deziree.
“I’m really excited,” Deziree said. “It would be nice to have the pool in town and go for swimming lessons every day.”
The pool will encourage her family to swim more, Teichroeb said.
“We don’t need to go to Prince George anymore.”
Chris Solberg, who moved to Vanderhoof in April last year, welcomed the incoming pool as well.
“I was a lifeguard for 12 years…swimming is in my blood,” Solberg said. “The chance to go swimming and take my son swimming is exciting.”
Six other community projects in B.C. were also announced on July 5 to receive funding through the Strategic Priorities Fund of the federal Gas Tax Fund in 2016, including water treatment plant upgrades in Lake Cowichan and a water recovery facility in Fort St. John.
From $1.5 to $12 million: long-time goal reached at last by popular support
A $4-million loan by the District of Vanderhoof is the next largest committed amount to the aquatic centre, authorized by residents of Vanderhoof and surrounding area through a referendum vote in 2013.
To repay the loan over 30 years, Vanderhoof residents will contribute annually $198,527 while those in the rural area contribute $77,205. Each year, this amounts to $0.86 per $1,000 of residential property assessed and $1.08 per $1,000 of rural property assessed, excluding land.
While nearly 70 per cent of over 2,600 participants was in favour of the loan, only 40 per cent voted yes in 1988 when the issue was first brought forth to referendum — the pool’s estimated cost was $1.5 million, recalled Tom Lawrence, chair of the Vanderhoof pool fundraising society at the time.
“I think we were a little ahead of our time back in the ‘80s,” said Lawrence, who now resides in Penticton. “We were going for a new concept pool, more family-orientated…without diving boards and deep pool.”
Nearly 30 years ago, the motivation then echoed today: a desire to provide more amenities for the area and attract more businesses.
“We don’t have the luxury of the weather…kids can learn how to swim and it keeps kids off the streets,” he said.
This time, there is more political and community will behind the project.
“It’s a long uphill battle, but it’s happened,” Lawrence said. “Congratulations on the whole community up there.”
Pool funding break-down
Federal Gas Tax Fund: $6,000,000
RDBN Area “F”: $500,000
RDBN Area “D”: $200,000
District of Vanderhoof (Gas Tax): $700,000
Northern Development Initiative Trust: $250,000
Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund: $100,000
Coastal GasLink: $50,000
Co-op Community Spaces: $75,225
Nak’azdli Whut’en: $50,000
Pool Fundraising Society: $461,220
More information on the incoming pool can be found on www.vanderhoofpool.ca
The latest confirmed pool design are as follows, according to the aquatic centre committee meeting on June 21:
– The pool will be designed for six lanes.
– The design will include a sauna.
– The building should be moved east and be separate from the arena, but remain on the same property.
– The new configuration for the deck viewing area will be used.
– A capital cost estimate would be provided, based on the design presented.
– The decision on the filtration system cannot be made until a cost estimate is provided.
Next meeting for the committee will take place on July 12.