2018-10-24

Region of Queens Municipality turns down aquatic centre proposal

by Charles Mandel

The dream of a new aquatic facility for the Region of Queens Municipality (RQM) is dead in the water.

RQM representatives met with members of the Queens Community Aquatic Society (QCAS) on October 15 to inform them that council would not support the proposed facility.

"While Council agrees that there are tremendous benefits in having a large aquatic facility in our community, we must also weigh the cost to residents and their ability to pay," David Dagley, Mayor of RQM said in a statement.

The QCAS had been lobbying for a four-lane, 25-metre pool that would have cost an estimated $12-million. The facility also would have included a shallow teaching and lounging pool, a large slide and waterfall, and would have been located at Queens Place Emera Centre.

Celeste Johnston, QCAS's president, told an earlier RQM council meeting that the facility would have helped bring people to Queens.

"We know anecdotally of people who have decided to relocate to the South Shore of Nova Scotia, but not here, because there's not a pool."

But council said the long term cost to taxpayers to build and maintain the facility and to cover the projected capital and operating costs would have meant an increase in all tax rates of over eight cents. And after the earlier council meeting Dagley told LighthouseNOW, "It was evident to me the numbers don't crunch."

Johnston previously told council that based on estimate of 1,000 users - which one councillor believed was unrealistic - that the aquatic facility would have run annual operating deficits of up to $185,000, and that the QCAS hoped to cover the shortfall through private and corporate fundraising.

"While the QCAS is extremely disappointed in the council's decision regarding a year-round aquatic facility, we wish to express appreciation to the Mayor, CAO, and Director of Recreation, for their work with us and for their diligence in doing what is affordable for the region," the QCAS said in a release.

"Without a significant contribution from a benefactor, the funding of an aquatic facility is not currently feasible."

A feasibility study was completed in the winter of 2018 by the society, the results of which were released publicly at the September 11, 2018, Region of Queens Municipality Council meeting. The QCAS had requested $4 million as the Municipal portion with the remaining $8 million to be requested from provincial and federal agencies.

"Council will now turn its attention to planning for future upgrades of the current 51-year old Milton Centennial

Pool to ensure its continued operation. We also manage the North Queens Aquatic Centre in Caledonia, which

was built in 1995, and is currently in good condition operationally," Dagley noted.

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