To build or not to build, that is the question.
Stantec’s much anticipated report on Port Hardy’s indoor swimming pool hasn’t arrived yet, but Mayor Dennis Dugas confirmed that once it does come in, it will be discussed at an upcoming council meeting and the report will be public information.
The revised report will have updated financial numbers from the original 2015 version, as council needs to know how much it will cost to repair the old pool so they can start the process of applying for federal and provincial grants.
“I understand people in the community were really looking forward to a new pool,” stated Dugas when asked to comment. “We all wanted something new for our community, but if we can’t get the money for a new one then we have to maintain what we’ve got.”
The district had previously applied two different times for federal and provincial grants to help fund the brand new pool but were denied both times.
Dugas noted it’s been “a pretty frustrating process,” but added that Port Hardy wasn’t the only community that was putting in applications for the grants so the competition was very tough as to who would actually get the funding.
As for how much the cost has risen since 2015 to repair the pool, Dugas stated that “Obviously the costs aren’t going to go down, so we’re thinking it’s going to be at least a 10 per cent increase from the original report’s numbers.”
He added the money the district has been collecting from taxes “will help pay for the debt we have to borrow. Whatever we end up doing, we’re going to have to borrow money,” and that council is hoping they won’t have to increase taxes to pay for it.
After nearly five years of dealing with the project, Dugas noted he would still love to have a new pool “if we can afford it, and that’s what it’s always been about — can we afford it and is it worth borrowing six million dollars and putting the municipality in debt for 30 years. All of us [council] were in favour of a new pool from the start, we all had concerns about how it was going to be done, but it was a priority project for us.”
The district still has a $250,000 donation from Mowi, but if they do decide to go ahead with repairing the old pool, council will have to sit down with the company and talk things out, as the money was originally meant for a new building.
With regards to the funding from the Regional District of Mount Waddington (an annual $50,000 contribution to finance one million dollars of the debt which has to be applied for every year), Dugas said it will be a council decision to apply for the money if they decide to fix the old pool instead of build new, but did note that it’s always been “a regional indoor pool. I know it’s located in Port Hardy, but we have people from all over who come to use it.”
Dugas added if they do end up repairing the old pool, the previous referendum where the electors approved the borrowing of six million dollars will no longer be valid. As such, the district would have to hold another referendum to get approval, or use the alternative approval process (counter petition) for approval to borrow funds.
Whatever choice they end up going with will inevitably be a council decision that will require a show of hands.
The bottom line, Dugas said, is that council is waiting for this report to come in “and we’re going to be discussing it, and whatever we do going forward we want the support of the community.”
QUICK FACTS ABOUT THE PORT HARDY POOL
Port Hardy’s indoor swimming pool is over 40 years old and requires major upgrading and repair to remain operational.
An overall assessment of the pool was completed in 2015 by Stantec with options that included either repairing the pool or replacing the building entirely.
The District went to the public to seek input on the direction council should consider and the survey results returned 74 per cent in favour of building a new aquatic facility. A referendum (Assent Voting Opportunity) was held Oct. 22, 2016.
The electors of Port Hardy approved the project.