Put the aquatic centre in the next capital budget

On behalf of the aquatic community, I write to encourage action regarding the proposed aquatic centre for the City of Red Deer. In order to do that, I offer the following chronology of the work to date. Citizens and aquatic groups have been frustrated since the late 1990s by the fact that Red Deer has inadequate pool facilities. Citizens reacted strongly in 2005 when the province threatened to close the Michener Pool.

On behalf of the aquatic community, I write to encourage action regarding the proposed aquatic centre for the City of Red Deer. In order to do that, I offer the following chronology of the work to date.

Citizens and aquatic groups have been frustrated since the late 1990s by the fact that Red Deer has inadequate pool facilities. Citizens reacted strongly in 2005 when the province threatened to close the Michener Pool.

In June 2008, a public meeting was called. It attracted about 100 persons — by no means only those involved in the swim clubs, but also by many who used such a facility for a variety of purposes.

This resulted in the formation of a registered society — Central Alberta Aquatic Centre (CAAC) — which did much work to promote the issue. Eventually recognized by city council, a joint committee with the Recreation Department was authorized and funded to the extent of $200,000.

Several studies were completed, along with a design for the aquatic centre and a recommendation as to location. Some of this funding remains unspent. Reports were received by council but no budget position was allocated. The suggested location was endorsed by council.

In 2012, several members of council proposed that action be taken. A compromise was reached and an ad-hoc committee was formed to give council an independent opinion as to the veracity of the findings of the joint committee.

Members of the ad-hoc committee appointed by council were six from the public, two from council, and two from CAAC, formed so as to clearly be able to give such an opinion.

They did so and unanimously recommended the design and location of the aquatic centre. (These recommendations were also a complete endorsement of the work of CAAC.)

While this was going on, another important survey of public opinion was sought by way of the Community Amenities Consultation 2014. This was a comprehensive public consultation much touted to determine and guide the infrastructure priorities for the City of Red Deer 2015 capital budget. The building of a multi-use aquatic facility was named No. 1 — tied with more trails, in that study.

I understand that administration temporarily allocated the aquatic centre to the 2020 budget at the time of the capital budget deliberations. A council workshop scheduled for this month will focus on a review of findings from the amenity study and determining when each top ranking amenity should be scheduled.

We urge council to allocate the aquatic centre project to the 2016 budget. Here are some reasons to do so: the project has now been seven years before council and the city has noted that it is in superior financial position; interest rates are at a record low and it is estimated that every year of delay will add a minimum of $3 million to the cost; it is appropriate that it be completed for the 2019 Canada Winter Games, thus saving them approximately $1 million because a second venue would not be required for the synchro swimming competition; by the year 2020, most of the studies and work to date will be redundant.

In closing, thank you to all who support this building. Please urge council to put in place this long overdue project.

J.O. Cuthbertson

Chair Central Alberta Aquatic Centre

Red Deer

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