Port McNeill’s outdoor swimming pool will not be opening this summer.
After much debate, Port McNeill council made the tough decision to keep the pool closed, which, according to Chief Administrative Officer Pete Nelson-Smith, was primarily due to “lack of security in knowing if the Public Health Office would allow us to open due to COVID-19 (at the time the decision was made), coupled with plans to begin on much needed maintenance.”
Instead of running the pool during the summer months as the town normally does, they will instead be doing “a major mechanical upgrade and potential heat loop tie in with the Regional District of Mount Waddington, which is awaiting a formal agreement between the two local governments,” said Nelson-Smith, who noted they should have grant funding coming in from the province for the upgrade, but are waiting for official confirmation.
Nelson-Smith added they typically hire 12-13 staff for the pool every year, but he’s not worried about them finding other work this summer.
“They’re all good, smart, hard working kids that will likely find work elsewhere… However, if they don’t find alternate work, we plan on hiring some of the applicants for the pool if we receive enough youth employment funding… No word on that funding yet.”
Port McNeill Mayor Gaby Wickstrom stated that council’s decision to close the pool this summer “was a difficult one. With COVID-19 guidelines changing continually we were unsure if we would be able to safely open the pool and if so, for what length of time. During budget discussions, the uncertainty of tax revenue arose. We recognized there would be cost savings and an opportunity to do much needed major infrastructure upgrades, allowing us to preserve a treasured asset.”