What to do about the Port McNeill pool.
Yes, you read that right, I said the Port McNeill pool.
The Port Hardy pool has been beaten to death lately in the news, whereas the Port McNeill pool has quietly limped along in the background.
Why exactly am I writing about the Port McNeill pool you might be wondering?
Well, according to a condition assessment of Town of Port McNeill owned buildings, the pool is in overall poor condition with an estimated remaining life of only 10 years. The pool’s capital requirements in the next five years are $137,519 alone, and if the Town of Port McNeill wants to entirely replace the pool, it would cost them $937,300.
To me, this is a very interesting subject.
I would like to suggest the Port McNeill pool is, at least technically-speaking, a semi regional service, much like the Chilton Regional Arena.
For those that aren’t aware, the Chilton Regional Arena actually belongs to and is operated by the Regional District of Mount Waddington (RDMW) and is a semi regional service in that only certain parts of the regional district pay into its taxation — Area D (Woss), and half of Area C (Hyde Creek) combine with Port McNeill to run and fund the facility.
Do the same areas use the Port McNeill pool when it is operational in the summer? Or do they all just suck it up and make the drive to Port Hardy to use the only indoor pool on the North Island? Woss apparently has its own outdoor pool so they most likely just use their own, but what about Hyde Creek, Nimpkish Heights, Alert Bay, and Sointula?
At the town’s last council meeting, I asked Port McNeill Mayor Shirley Ackland (who is also RDMW Vice-Chair) whether she thinks they should request a grant in aid from the RDMW to help fund the repairs, or entire replacement, of their outdoor swimming pool, but I didn’t receive much of an answer.
Nothing against Mayor Ackland, I think she’s a really smart person with a lot of important things to say, but I believe my question was definitely a legitimate one.
Why should Port McNeill taxpayers be the only ones on the hook for funding an outdated pool that, at least to my knowledge, is most likely used semi regionally just like their ice rink?
I asked RDMW Chair Andrew Hory about this issue, and he basically told me the regional district has a limit imposed on them by the province as to how much grant in aid they can include in their budget. For the RDMW this year, it’s $123,000.
Port Hardy is getting $50,000 for their multiplex, Mount Cain is getting $35,000, and the Seven Hills Golf Course is getting $25,000, which equals $110,000 of the $123,000 already spent.
So I believe roughly $13,000 is still left on the table this year. Having said that, the $13,000 could easily be spoken for by some other area director or projects that I’m not aware of.
In any case, the RDMW seems more than willing to help fund projects like the Port Hardy multiplex, which is not an officially designated regional facility like the Chilton Regional Arena.
I personally think Port McNeill’s pool qualifies for some kind of regional funding, but I also think any monetary requests ultimately should be dependent on how much it is used, and by what parts of the regional district.
Regardless of regional funding, what do you think Port McNeill should do with their pool? Let me know by sending an email to email@example.com with some of your own thoughts.