Residents came out to the leisure pool to have their say.Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 10, 2022 at 09:04

By Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Public input on the future of the North Peace Leisure Pool has begun, with the Peace River Regional District and City of Fort St. John hosting an open house on June 7 at the current facility.

Residents were invited to dive in and vote with coloured stickers for their top wants and needs in a new leisure pool.

The pool was built in 1996 and is owned by the PRRD, but operated by the City of Fort St. John. 25 years on, the building has begun to show its age, with maintenance issues happening more often than not.

Hudson’s Hope resident Lisa Wiebe attended the open house and said she’s hoping to see more options for frequent users like the Inconnu Swim Club, which her daughters are part of. Lanes and space for sporting events should be a priority in any new building, she said.

“Being able to hold an actual swim meet that other teams want to come to, because that can generate money for our club,” said Wiebe. “If we don’t have room for spectators or we don’t have a properly regulated pool, that’s going to restrict the people that come.”

Any new facility needs to accommodate both the casual recreational users and the athletic groups, she added.

“It would be great if we could push for a 50-metre pool, they seem to be pretty set on sticking to 25 metres, but having consistent, unrestricted access to swim lessons for the swim club and leisure pool, because that’s where they’re drawing their money from, and it always seems like one is shut down,” said Wiebe.

A series of pre-pandemic public engagements were completed in 2018 before the replacement project was put on pause in 2019.

The project has yet to be given a final price tag, but estimates in 2019 pegged the cost of a new facility at $60 million or up to $100 million, if elected officials decide to add a new gymnasium, indoor track and field, and social spaces to the facility.

A virtual open house on the pool is planned for Thursday night at 7 p.m. In the meantime, anyone looking to have their say can do so on the PRRD’s website until July 7.