It may not happen immediately, but a group of concerned citizens are pushing for a new pool facility.
The quick sketch the new pool facility group made to reflect what they would like to see in a new facility shows not only a large 10 lane, 50-metre pool, but also a recreational side, with water slides, a hot tub and a zero depth splash park area.
The group held their second public meeting at the John M. Cuelenaere Library on Monday night, to hear opinions and work together to come up with a plan to present to city council in the future.
The idea was first sparked by the Prince Albert Sharks Swim Club when members were concerned with a number of problems at the current pool facilities, Coach Roger Boucher said.
There have also been some mechanical problems with both the Frank Dunn Pool and the Kinsmen Water Park, including the shut down of the water slides at the latter.
“Obviously the water slides was part of it and just looking forward to the future,” Boucher said. “All of our pool facilities are old -- they are 30 to 40 years old.
“Looking in the next five to 10 years, things are going to start to break down, it is going to start to cost more to upkeep than it will to have the benefit of them being up kept. We figured it was time to get a new pool.”
So far, there has been a small group of people interested in building a new pool, including many lane swimmers, speed swimmers, lifeguards and former pool staff, as well as some who just enjoy the pool for recreational purposes.
“I’m expecting a lot more people to become interested in the idea,” Boucher said. “I’ve had interest expressed to me but people just couldn’t make it.
“There is a lot of interest for a new pool out there and I think as we go and as people become more aware of what we are doing, the group will just grow and grow and then ideally it will be the whole city,” he added.
The group has some ideas of what they would like to see in a pool facility, including a 10 lane, 50-metre pool to be used for lane swimming, speed swimming, diving, water polo and more, as well as a large viewing area.
In addition to the fitness portion of an aquatic centre, they would also like to see a recreation side with water slides, a zero depth paddling pool, hot tub and a teaching or rehabilitation pool.
“The group would like to see a pool that is built not for just right now, but for our future,” Boucher said. “Prince Albert is a growing city and you can see that by the real estate prices, you can see by the number of houses that are going up, people are coming here.
“We need a pool facility that is going to be adequate for the next 30 years,” he added. “In 30 years time, that’s when it is going to be a large city. We are going to be, ideally, in and around the 100,000 range.”
If the city only builds a five lane, 25-metre pool, it won’t stand up for 30 years.
“If we don’t build it big enough, if the city doesn’t build a facility large enough, then they are going to have to spend another chuck to build a larger facility or another facility that would end up costing double,” Boucher said.
Since the group is still in the beginning stages, they are not ready to present to city council yet, but are hoping to in the near future.
“Right now we are just looking for support and finding what we need to do as a group in order to move forward and get in front of city council so we do it correctly when we get there,” Boucher said.
“We need to get support from the community and start talking to some key members of the community, some key groups in the community and getting them on board and having the same vision as we do,” he added. “We need to find out about a feasibility study as well as a cost and a business case study, which will take into account all the economic benefits that a new pool could bring to the city as well as is this possible to do right now.”
Boucher believes a new pool could be a huge benefit to the city. Not only could it give the health region a place to take patients for rehabilitation and help the overall health of city residents, the recreation side would also be wonderful.
“We have a large piece of the city who uses the recreation facility and with a large recreation facility would allow for 12 months of the year use,” Boucher said. “The Kinsmen Water Slides are fantastic but we only get to use them for three months at the most.
“If we had it all year (it would be of) economic benefit because when people are here, they would be more likely to use the facility or people will drive to Prince Albert to use a great indoor water park,” he added.
It would also bring more people to Prince Albert to stay and raise families, he said.
“We can benefit economically and can also benefit professionally because with good recreation facilities and good facilities in general, professionals are more likely to come to P.A. so their families have something to do,” Boucher said. “Once you get more professionals coming into the city because there are things to do, their families tend to stay where they live, their kids grow up here and stay here -- I was born and raised here. It snowballs and keeps getting bigger and better.”
Boucher would love to see more people become involved with the group.
“We would love to have more community support and if people are interested in coming out to the meetings our next one is going to be on Sept.15 at 7 p.m. at the library,” he said. “If anyone is interested, definitely come out and see where we are going and what we can achieve.”