Everybody out of the pool

Red Deer city council did not take the plunge. A multi-use aquatics centre featuring a 50-metre pool will remain on the city’s books for 2020.

Red Deer city council did not take the plunge.

A multi-use aquatics centre featuring a 50-metre pool will remain on the city’s books for 2020.

Coun. Lynne Mulder asked about the financial implications of moving the project ahead four years so it would be ready in time for the 2019 Canada Winter Games during 10-year capital plan debate on Wednesday.

Council heard that $83 million would have to added to the 2016 budget in order for the pool to be ready for the games.

City manager Craig Curtis said work on the project would have to start straight away.

The facility would also have to be up and running six months before the games.

Dean Krejci, the city’s chief financial officer, told council there would be a significant tax increase of six per cent which could be spread over three years. The tax increase would be over and above the normal property tax increase.

Krejci said it would require debt payments of $4.4 million per year for 30 years to pay for the construction at the current interest rates. The city would also have to hire a project manager.

But after hearing the hefty costs, Mulder did not attempt to advance the project and voted to keep the timeline the same in 10-year capital plan.

Mulder said she is not giving up the fight for the 50-metre pool but she does not want to impose another two to three per cent tax increase on residents.

Her hope is there will be some federal and provincial funding for the project.

She said she is disappointed but believes it is the right decision today.

“I am not going away,” said Mulder. “I am glad it is still on at 2020.”

Council reasoned the price tag was just too high to move ahead four years without a clear funding plan.

Several councillors including Paul Harris and Dianne Wyntjes brought up the need to step up its advocacy efforts for the amenity so the city is not stuck with the entire bill.

Wyntjes said the city has to be prepared for the unpredictable and she believes the pool is in the right spot in the plan.

Coun. Lawrence Lee said he is happy the project is going to happen in a planned, deliberate and intentional way.

With no changes to the plan, the pool could open in 2022.

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