Over a 100 people gathered in the Friendship Centre in Vanderhoof last Tuesday for the first public meeting about a proposed $12 million pool in town.

Over a 100 people gathered in the Friendship Centre in Vanderhoof last Tuesday for the first public meeting about a proposed $12 million pool in town.

Good turn out at first public pool meeting

More than 100 people were in attendance for a relatively tame first public meeting about a proposed $12 million pool in Vanderhoof.

More than 100 people were in attendance for a relatively tame first public meeting about a proposed $12 million pool in Vanderhoof.

The information session was held by the Vanderhoof Pool Committee at the Friendship Centre last Tuesday evening.

Those in attendance had the opportunity for comment and questions.

Vanderhoof mayor Gerry Thiessen opened the meeting before a slideshow presentation about the proposed aquatic centre by Ashley Kuznak, the recreation coordinator for the district.

The presentation highlighted the main advantages of having an aquatic centre in Vanderhoof, in particular for promoting a healthy lifestyle for families and seniors, as well as for promoting water safety. The financial benefits were also highlighted, and it was suggested that building a pool would be a key way to attract and retain professionals to the town and surrounding areas, as well as creating a number of jobs such as swimming instructor and life guard positions.

A graphic showing the proposed pool was shown during the presentation and included a multi-purpose room, a lobby and viewing area, changing rooms, a lap pool, a wading pool, a lazy river, an exercise lane and an exercise area.

The public was also told about the financial break down and costs of the building and maintenance of the pool.

The committee has estimated that it will cost around $480,000 a year to operate the pool. They are requesting that the communities of Fraser Lake, Fort St. James and Regional Districts C and D each take on $25,000 a year and that Regional District F take on $100,000 a year. The remaining $280,000 would be covered by Vanderhoof.

The cost to build the pool is currently estimated at $12 million, $8 million of which the committee hopes can be funded by various grants. The remaining $4 million would be spread over a number of years and would be the responsibility of Vanderhoof and Regional District F.

An average household in Vanderhoof would be looking at a tax increase of $130 per year.

Before the meeting was opened up for public comment, RCMP Staff Sergeant David Beach, real estate agent Tom Bulmer and businessman and ex-council member Brian Frenkel, all spoke on the benefits of having a pool in town.

Sgt. Beach described the Vanderhoof RCMP detachment as a training detachment, stating than on average an RCMP member would only stay in the community for about three years.

“When I get a phone call from RCMP officers who have experience – they have families and they ask me what Vanderhoof’s like.

“I tell them all the great things about Vanderhoof – but they ask me if we have an aquatic centre or a recreation centre…I say no and that pretty well ends the conversation and I never hear from them again,” said Sgt. Beach.

He added that the situation is the same with new recruits from Regina who have families…”After we finish training them, if they have a family, they move on.

“Anybody who has mobility within their profession, they go to places that have recreation facilities and other amenities.

“If we had an aquatic centre we could attract police officers with experience and people would stay here…you would get to know your policemen,” he said.

He also mentioned the effect a pool might have on the petty crime rate.

 

“It would give the youths something to do and would reduce property crimes and other crimes that are associated with idol hands,” he said.

Bulmer also emphasized that a pool would attract people to the area and benefit property owners in town.

“We would attract a lot more people to our town and manage to keep them here and that will help you as landowners because your real estate will go up.

“I’m 100 per cent behind this,” he said.

Frenkel spoke about Vanderhoof as losing out in competition against many other small communities who have more to offer.

“We have to look at what’s best for our community down the road…we’ve had this process with the arena and it’s the same thing – large operating costs, no revenue – none of these things are going to make money folks, but we need them to attract people to our community,” he said.

A number of interesting questions were thrown at the pool committee by the public during the second half of the meeting.

One asked why two previous attempts to build a pool in Vanderhoof had failed at referendum and what is being done to make this attempt more successful?

Steve Little, chair of the committee, said previous proposals had failed due to a lack of public information about the pool and also due to the structure on how people would be taxed.

“We’ve restructured it completely,” said Little.

“If I remember correctly, last time, the regional residents were asked to pay tax on all their lands…but now it’s a residential tax rather than a parcel tax,” he said.

Overall, there were more gusto statements from the public in favor of the pool, than against it, although not all comment was positive.

One resident in attendance, Justus Benckhuysen, said although he has nothing against a pool, he doesn’t think it is the answer to all the towns’ problems.

“We can’t afford a skateboard park and that’s only $200,000 to build with no operation costs.

“The pool is being marketed as the silver bullet that will fix all of our ills – we need to look at all the little things that we can’t afford like a community arts building…we need to recognize that no one thing is going to solve all our problems,” he said.

Little responded by saying that the multipurpose rooms in the proposed pool designs could be used by many other community groups in town that are in need of space.

Another resident stood up and made his argument in favor of building a pool.

“We are one of the younger families here and we’ve been here about five years…but we’re just about ready to move out of town because there’s no aquatic centre.” he said.

He added that he and his wife spend a lot of money taking their three-year-old son to the pool in Prince George, and that the proposed pool would be worth the tax increase.

“We do have a good economy right now but there’s really not much for our families to do here.

“It’s a little bit of money for what we’re going to end up getting and it’s going to keep families like us here…I don’t know if I can raise my son here…I don’t want him down at 7-Eleven at 12 at night,” he said.

Another parent said she spends $500 a month taking her 15-year-old son with severe special needs swimming in Prince George once a week.

An elementary teacher also put her hand up to offer input.

“I wasn’t planning to speak…but eight years ago, one June, I said goodbye to my class on a Friday afternoon and on a Saturday afternoon one of my students drowned,” she said.

“We’re surrounded by rivers and lakes here and a pool is essential for safety.”

Vanderhoof physiotherapist Richard Van Erp said a pool in town would offer huge benefits to many of his patients.

“From a professional perspective I can tell you that I deal with people on a daily basis who would greatly benefit from moving and exercise in water…I have to send a lot of people to Prince George to exercise because we don’t have anything here,” he said.

Another resident asked if the current pool design could be “shaved down” and made more affordable. He also suggested the committee look at building the pool at the west end of town by L&M lumber.

“L&M can heat the pool – they have a lot of heat going into the sky there,” he said.

Little said the suggestion would be taken into consideration and that the proposed pool design was not set in stone.

Further public meetings in Vanderhoof and the surrounding area will be held throughout the summer.

A referendum for the proposed pool will be held this November in conjunction with the next civic election, in order to save on costs.

“The question will be asked to everyone – do you support building a pool in Vanderhoof?” said Little.

 

If successful, the referendum would have a shelf life of five years.

 

 

 

Just Posted

Emergency crews responded to the scene of a suspicious fire at the southeast corner of the OK Café in Vanderhoof Friday, June 11. The historic building is 101-years-old. (BC RCMP photo)
OK Café in Vanderhoof alright after suspicious fire

Damage kept to a minimum by firefighters

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. Northern Health confirmed it has the lowest vaccination rates amongst the province’s five regional health authorities. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Vaccination rates in Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake, Fort St James well below provincial average

COVID-19 immunization clinics for youth 12+ coming up in Fort St. James

Steve McAdam (left) is studying substrate conditions in the Nechako River and how they impact sturgeon eggs. The work will help design habitat restoration measures, said McAdam. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Sturgeon egg studies to help inform future habitat restoration

“It’s an interesting, challenging issue,” says Steve McAdam

Saik’uz First Nation Coun. Jasmine Thomas and Chief Priscilla Mueller speak about the need for addiction treatment facility near Vanderhoof, March 2021. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Vanderhoof addiction treatment centre tries again with ministry support

Agriculture minister insists she is not interfering in land commission

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Most Read