The Vanderhoof Pool Committee are planning to hold a public meeting in town at the beginning of April.
Residents will be able to ask any questions and voice their opinions on the proposed building of a $12 million pool by the arena in Vanderhoof.
The date is yet to be firmed up, but it is likely it will be held at the small auditorium at Nechako Valley Secondary School (NVSS)
Over the last two weeks, the committee have been traveling to the surrounding communities and districts in an attempt to muster up some financial support for the operation and maintenance of the pool.
So far they have been to Fort St. James and Fraser Lake council meetings.
This week they will be visiting the Regional District at Fort Fraser.
The committee have 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 then be left to be covered by Vanderhoof.
For a community such as Fraser Lake or Fort St. James, the estimated increase in taxes for the average household would be about $11. In Vanderhoof the increase would be around $68 for the operating costs. Steve Little, chair of the pool committee, said that the cost to build the pool would be spread over a number of years and would be the responsibility of Vanderhoof and Regional District F.
With both the operating costs and the cost to build the pool, the average household in Vanderhoof is looking at a tax increase of approximately $150 a year.
Little says the tax increase is less than was proposed last time Vanderhoof tried to build a pool, over a decade ago. The decision went to referendum and failed in both the town and the rural district.
However this figure is dependent on the obtaining of a certain amount of grant money to help with the building of the pool.
“Without grant money this thing probably doesn’t go anywhere,” said Little.
The committee have also released figures of how much money people in Vanderhoof and the surrounding communities would save if a pool was built.
“The trip to Prince George from Vanderhoof is about 100 km and if you average 45 cents a kilometre, your at $90 bucks to get to there and back,” said Little.
“One trip basically pays for the operation at the pool in Vanderhoof for a year.”
“Plus you would be home sooner and therefore you can spend more money in your community, more time with family or at work or whatever you want, because you’ve got two hours less on the road,” he said.
Little says public support for the pool is increasing, and that the pool now has 330 founding members.
Any member of the public can become a founding member: “They pay $5 to be a founding member of the pool their name will go up on the wall when and if we build it, and they’ll get a free swim on the opening day,” said Little.
A facebook page in support of the pool has also been set up and has approximately 1000 members.
Tawny Weinhardt commented on the wall of the group saying: “I don’t want to go to PG (Prince George) every time I want to go swimming.”
Another comment from Linda Morris says: “I’ve lived in Mackenzie going on 30 years and now have family living in Vanderhoof so I’ve managed to visit your town quite often the past year. I love the scenery, the people, the available shopping, the campground is awesome but how sad there is no pool. As a tourist to other communities in the northwest a recreational pool is a relaxing, soothing way to finish a day of driving. Such a young population town, what a shame.”
Whilst the large majority of the members do seem to support the pool, there are a few who have joined the group to voice their opinion against it.
Mike Manojlovic commented: “Even if the pool was built for free which we know will not happen, and we matched Houston’s costs of running their rec/pool center, which is a $1,000/day center, do we have an excess budget exceeding $365,000/year? Other towns are struggling to find ways to keep their rec centers open due to the poor economy and lack of funds required, Vanderhoof would be no different since it’s economy is effected in the same manner. I would love a pool here, absolutely, but I still cannot see any reasonable way to create funding to take on such a project in today’s economy.”
A referendum for the proposed pool will be held this November in conjunction with the next civil election, in order to save on costs.
“The question will be asked to everyone in Vanderhoof and in the Regional District – do you support building a pool in Vanderhoof?” said Little.