Taking the plunge for a new swimming pool

Representatives from various Red Deer aquatic groups who joined forces to save the Michener Pool years ago have teamed up again with a new mission.

Grant Howell standing outside the Recreation Centre’s outdoor pool.

Grant Howell standing outside the Recreation Centre’s outdoor pool.

Representatives from various Red Deer aquatic groups who joined forces to save the Michener Pool years ago have teamed up again with a new mission.

Known as the Central Alberta Aquatic Centre, these men and women are determined to see a 53-metre multi-use pool built in the city.

Such a facility is needed, they argue, to ensure local water-based programs stay afloat.

Bob Diewold, president of the Silver Sharks Masters Swim Club and aquatic group member, said the current pool capacity simply cannot accommodate the growing population.

Enrolment for the swim club that caters to those 18 and older had to be capped to 150 members last season because, Diewold said, there was not enough space to accept the additional 50 swimmers interested in joining the club.

“We turned away as many people this year as we had swimming three years ago,” Diewold said.

The lack of space has also plagued the Catalina Swim Club and the Red Deer Synchronized Swim Club.

“The current pool space in Red Deer, and even when you open up the Dawe Centre, isn’t adequate in peak times for the user groups,” said Marty Bruin, past president of Catalina who is a an aquatic centre member. He also spearheaded the original team that successfully lobbied the city to save the Michener pool.

“We don’t have a pool in Red Deer that can accommodate the population of Red Deer,” agreed Debbie Rowe, past president of the local synchronized swim club and aquatic group member.

She said the city does not have a facility that is both deep and large enough for the synchronized swimmers to practise their entire routine in. The members, therefore, have to use both the dive tank at the Michener pool as well as the deepest end of the Recreation Centre pool to perfect their program.

Recreational swimmers are also feeling the pinch.

“I can’t swim recreationally at the Rec because it’s so full that you don’t get an aerobic workout,” said Grant Howell, a community representative with the coalition.

“It’s really not an enjoyable experience.”

All agree the space crunch comes down to the fact that a population that has more than doubled in the past 30 years is still being serviced by the same 11 lanes — six are located at the Michener Centre and five are at the Recreation Centre.

The Dawe Centre pool, which will re-open in August, is too shallow for any of the groups to use.

The call for new larger pool is not a new one.

A 2008 Community Assets Needs Assessment survey highlighted the need for a multi-use facility that includes a 50-metre pool, something other communities such as Lethbridge and Medicine Hat already have.

The local coalition is now one step closer to realizing the goal.

City council approved $200,000 last week so the group can move ahead with preliminary planning initiatives for the desired aquatic centre.

Group members have eagerly teamed up with representatives from the city to form a joint task force that will spend this money in three areas.

Smaller expenditures include preparing a business plan and operating model as well as a community awareness campaign.

The bulk of the money, about $150,000, will be used to hire a consultant to prepare a concept model.

While it’s still early in the process, the task force is facing questions about what the facility will include and where it should be located.

The group has proposed a 10-lane, 53-metre pool with moveable bulkheads. Diewold explained the bulkheads can be used to break the tank into three separate 25-metre pools so the facility can accommodate numerous needs at the same time.

Such a centre could result in aquatic sports not now found in Red Deer, such as diving and water polo, as well as house various competitions even at the national level, the group members said.

“We’re definitely talking about building a community resource that would be suitable for competition but at the end of the day is for everybody,” Diewold said.

The proposed pool, the group stressed, would benefit the aquatic groups and the community as a whole.

“We have to accommodate every citizen at all levels,” Rowe said.

Where a new facility would be built is up in the air, but it could be added to the Recreation Centre as part of the greater Rotary Recreation Project.

“Wherever the city wants to put it, we will be behind it because we want it,” Rowe said.

Diewold and Bruin agreed this spot makes sense as the area is already serviced and is a central location that is easily accessible.

Some councillors expressed concerns at the May 3 council meeting, however, as one proposal calls for the removal of the outdoor pool to facilitate the space for the large indoor tank.

Construction of a family-friendly leisure outdoor pool is also included in the proposed concept.

While the aquatics group was not involved in the design, Diewold said such concerns are premature in these early planning stages.

“It’s just out there because it’s a possibility and nothing more,” Diewold said. “But there are other possibilities as well, as I understand it.”

The task force has tentative plans to meet this week for the first time since being awarded the $200,000.

Diewold said he hopes that within the year they’ll have used the money to produce a more specific timeline on the project.

When financing is needed to get construction rolling, the group members expressed a commitment to help raise funds, although they anticipate the majority of money will come from the various levels of government.

ptrotter@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The QEII was closed Sunday morning due to a pole fire. (Photo courtesy City of Red Deer)
QEII closed near Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in Red Deer

Drivers are being asked to use alternate routes as southbound and northbound… Continue reading

Innisfail RCMP are investigating a single-vehicle crash that happened west of Bowden on March 21, 2021. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Bashaw RCMP investigate fatal collision in central Alberta

Bashaw RCMP are investigating after a fatal collision Saturday afternoon. Police were… Continue reading

A damaged unicorn statue is shown in a field outside of Delia, Alta. in this undated handout photo. It's not often police can report that a unicorn has been found, but it was the truth Saturday when RCMP said a stolen, stainless-steel statue of the mythical beast had been located in a field not far from where he'd been taken. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Mounties get their unicorn; stolen statue of mythical beast found in Alberta field

DELIA, Alta. — It’s not often police can report that a unicorn… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Ethan Rowland battles with Medicine Hat Tigers forward Brett Kemp during WHL action at the Centrium Saturday night. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers claw back, hand Rebels 11th straight loss

Tigers 5 Rebels 2 The same old issues continue to plague the… Continue reading

There were six additional deaths across Alberta reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,926 since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Federal government to send health-care workers to Ontario, Trudeau says

MONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says federal departments and some Canadian… Continue reading

People cross a busy street in the shopping district of Flushing on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in the Queens borough of New York. Access to the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States is growing by the day. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kathy Willens
Despite COVID-19 vaccines, Americans in D.C. not feeling celebratory — or charitable

WASHINGTON — This might make Canadians jealous of their American cousins for… Continue reading

A man pays his respects at a roadside memorial in Portapique, N.S. on Thursday, April 23, 2021. RCMP say at least 22 people are dead after a man who at one point wore a police uniform and drove a mock-up cruiser, went on a murder rampage in Portapique and several other Nova Scotia communities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Memorial service in Nova Scotia marks one year since mass shooting started

TRURO, N.S. — A memorial service is planned for today in central… Continue reading

In this April 23, 2016, photo, David Goethel sorts cod and haddock while fishing off the coast of New Hampshire. To Goethel, cod represents his identity, his ticket to middle class life, and his link to one the country's most historic industries, a fisherman who has caught New England's most recognized fish for more than 30 years. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
‘It’s more than just a fish:’ Scientists worry cod will never come back in N.L.

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The latest assessment of Atlantic cod stocks, whose… Continue reading

FILE - In this Friday Aug. 21, 2020 file photo, Leonid Volkov, a top strategist for Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, addresses the media in Berlin, Germany. Activists for imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny are calling for massive protests in the heart of Moscow and St. Petersburg as Navalny's health reportedly is deteriorating severely while on hunger strike. Leonid Volkov, a top strategist for Navalny, said the demonstrations are called on short notice for Wednesday April 21, 2021, because "his life hangs in the balance. ... We don't know how long he can hold on." (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File)
Navalny’s team calls protests amid reports of failing health

MOSCOW — Associates of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny called Sunday… Continue reading

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gestures during a news conference Sunday, April 4, 2021, at the Manatee County Emergency Management office in Palmetto, Fla. DeSantis has received a single-dose coronavirus vaccine. His office confirmed Wednesday, April 7, 2021 that the Republican governor got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires only a single dose. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, file)
GOP White House hopefuls move forward as Trump considers run

WASHINGTON — Less than three months after former President Donald Trump left… Continue reading

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Ontario Premier Doug Ford points on a COVID-19 caseload projection model graph during a press conference at Queen's Park, in Toronto, Friday, April 16, 2021. Ontario was set to backtrack on controversial new police powers to enforce stay-at-home orders implemented in the battle against COVID-19.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ford backtracks on new police COVID-19 powers amid intense backlash

TORONTO — Furious criticism of new anti-pandemic powers that allow police in… Continue reading

Most Read