Fredericton city council approved $24,030 to help pay for a feasibility study that would see a new regional pool in New Brunswick’s capital.
“This is huge,” said Chris Ramsey, chair and CEO of the Fredericton Regional Aquatics Centre Inc., a non-profit group that was created to bring a pool to the Fredericton area.
“This is the first big step to get us to a point where we can get to funding this project. Then moving to the capital campaign. Then to the construction.”
The aquatics community in the Fredericton area has been pushing for a new pool since the University of New Brunswick announced it would be closing the Sir Max Aitken Pool in 2017.
The university pool is the only spot in the city for competitive swimming, diving and synchronized swimming.
Since then, the university and the city struck a deal to keep the pool open until 2021, while the region works together to build a new pool.
Working together as a region
Fredericton is the fourth municipality that has agreed to fund the study.
Oromocto has committed $1,500 to the study, New Maryland has agreed to $1,750 and Hanwell will offer $2,500.
The total cost of the feasibility study is $100,000 plus HST.
“It’s becoming, as we envisioned, a great regional project,” said Fredericton Mayor Mike O’Brien.
“I think one of the real catalysts on this project is when Chris Ramsey stepped forward to lead the process. It takes it out of the political realm and takes it away from that level of maybe, mistrust of each other.”
Earlier this year, the city committed $3 million to the final pool project, and the University of New Brunswick gave the city $3 million for the project in the form of land grants.
O’Brien said the city’s contribution could change, but that would happen after the feasibility study.
What happens now?
Now that four municipalities have agreed to fund the project, Ramsey will ask the province for $75,000 in provincial funding for the study.
Ramsey said that should be a quick process.
That funding will go toward the local regional service commission. Once the province makes a decision on funding, a consulting firm will be hired to perform the feasibility study.
Ramsey said the feasibility study will help each municipality understand what needs to be built and how much the new indoor pool will cost.
“What this does is it gets us to a point where everybody who needs to have a voice in what this is going to be, will have had a voice in it,” said Ramsey.