Aquatic centre eyed for 2013

There’s no doubt a new multi-use aquatics centre will be built in Red Deer. However, it just a question of when, 70 people heard Monday at a meeting.

Jack Cutbertson speaks to a group gathered at the Black Knight Inn on Monday as he and other interested people show off promotional material in an effort to have a state-of-the-art aquatic Centre built.

There’s no doubt a new multi-use aquatics centre will be built in Red Deer.

However, it just a question of when, 70 people heard Monday at a meeting.

Jack Cuthbertson of the Central Alberta Aquatic Society said the group, which formed more than a year ago, wants to see a new aquatic centre become a focal issue next year, with the intent of it becoming Red Deer’s centennial project for 2013.

Cuthbertson said if it’s designated the centennial project, provincial and federal grants would flow in for the 50-metre swimming pool.

The society chairman said funding could come from the city, province and federal governments.

People heard that aquatic opportunities are very limited now because none of the city’s four pools meet standards to hold provincial swimming meets.

Swimming isn’t the only use, Cuthbertson said.

Synchronized swimming, water polo, and diving could all be accommodated in a new centre.

The centre would also be built to accommodate needs for seniors and handicapped swimmers, Cuthbertson said.

“This project must be driven by the city,” he said.

City Councillor Buck Buchanan, who attended the meeting, said later the more facilities the city can build the better for everyone.

However, the economic downturn makes it difficult for budgeting, Buchanan said.

“We’ve got many worthy groups competing for funding.

“They are all equally worthwhile of consideration and all deserve to be heard.

“Council has some tough decisions coming up,” he added.

“We’ve got groups asking for ball diamonds and soccer fields as well,” he said.

“All these groups are compassionate about their needs and justifiably so,” Buchanan said.

He said councillors will rely on a recreation, parks and culture needs assessment study to try and determine priorities.

He said the council will attempt to balance those needs against the downturn in the economy which has prompted the province to reduce funding to municipalities.

“It’s like Jack said tonight it all comes down to funding,” Buchanan said.

Cuthbertson said the ideal spot for a 50-metre swimming pool would be in Riverlands.

“It’s the most economical place to have it and the land is already owned by the city,” Cutherbertson said.

He said the ideal situation is for some associated businesses to be part of the complex so revenues from them could offset operating costs for the aquatic centre.

He said cities such as Lethbridge and Medicine Hat already have better aquatic facilities while Fort McMurray is in the final stages of completing a centre and Grande Prairie is already planning one.

“We don’t have an adequate facility now so how can we meet future needs when the population hits 125,000?”

Cutherbertson said the society will embark on a public awareness campaign and bring displays to the malls and present information to interested groups.

jwilson@bprda.wpengine.com

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