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Summerland considers next steps for pool facility

Existing facility is 47 years old and some replacement parts have been discontinued
The equipment at the Summerland Aquatic and Fitness Centre was installed when the facility was opened in 1976. At present, defective pipes cannot be replaced as the necessary sizes have been discontinued. (Summerland Review file photo)

Summerland council will soon consider what happens next now that the Nov. 4 referendum on the proposed Summerland Recreation Centre has been defeated.

The referendum question, to allow borrowing of up to $50 million for a new pool and recreation facility, failed with 42 per cent of voters in favour and 58 per cent opposed. Voter turnout was 46 per cent.

Summerland mayor Doug Holmes said council will discuss its direction at an upcoming meeting.

“We have to look at what our options might be,” he said. “Obviously, this wasn’t the solution the community was looking for.”

A recreation facility had been considered for the past five years, and during that time, Summerland council had examined several options including renovating and retrofitting the existing facility, as well as several options for a new facility.

Under provincial legislation, a referendum must be presented as a clear yes or no question, not a multiple choice question. For this reason, the pool proposal was set out as a single choice for voters.

Holmes said the decision to go to a referendum rather than using the alternative approval process was emphasized.

He said in the 2022 municipal election, every candidate wanted to bring the issue to a referendum.

Coun. Janet Peake believes the outcome of the referendum might have been different if inflation and interest rates were not as high as they are at present.

Holmes said a grant application for up to $25 million may have also affected the result of the referendum. However, the grant application had not been approved by the time the referendum was held.

While the pool proposal will not go ahead, Summerland will continue to use the existing Summerland Aquatic and Fitness Centre. That facility was opened in 1976 and was expanded twice, in 1988 and 1996. The original pool and system are still in use at this facility.

Because of the age of the facility, replacement parts are no longer being manufactured. Instead, maintenance staff have had to source used parts when replacements are needed.

John Arendt

About the Author: John Arendt

John Arendt has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. He has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism degree from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
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