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Gibsons Lobbies for Pool Reopening

Gibsons Lobbies for Pool Reopening

Town Council wants the SCRD to reopen the Gibsons pool. It also wants disclosure of the costs to reopen, following the seven month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At its Sept. 15 meeting Council agreed to write the SCRD with these requests. Mayor Bill Beamish stated that he had already suggested to the SCRD that partial day opening of the pool be considered. He also raised the potential of the Town contributing to capital improvements, like plexiglass screening, required to safely welcome the public back.
Council members said they did not understand the additional costs faced by the SCRD with reopening the pool, or the scale of those costs. “There is a huge amount of information missing,” said Councillor Stafford Lumley. He questioned the logic of paying to maintain the facility yet keeping it closed and generating no revenue.
It was noted that Gibsons taxpayers are contributing to the SCRD for the reopening of facilities located in Sechelt and then also have to travel to use those venues. With senior citizens making up more than half of the Town’s population, Council wants the SCRD to consider the health and social benefits of having a pool in their community.
Lumley, a recreational hockey player, detailed how the SCRD’s increased costs and reduced service levels at Gibsons Recreation Centre are impacting his sport. He said that user fees are the same as last year. Yet members of his team will only get to play half of their games, as the arena capacity is being limited to fourteen players at a time. They can’t use the Centre’s changing and washroom areas as they remain closed.
Town SCRD Director, Councillor David Croal, stated the SCRD Board has endorsed limited operations of three regional recreation facilities for the rest of 2020. Reopening the Gibsons Recreation Centre, Sechelt Aquatic Centre and dry floor use of the Sunshine Coast Arena is forecast to result in a 5 percent property tax increase in 2021. He estimated reopening the Gibsons pool could increase that number to 8 percent and adding ice at the Sunshine Coast Arena could move the taxation level up by twelve percent.
Ice user groups with memberships living in the central and northern Coast are also lobbying the SCRD to reinstall ice at the SC Arena. Croal said that they made similar comments about the toll of having to drive up to an hour to access an ice rink. “No one is happy with the current service level,” said Croal.
He went on to explain how the Board is trying to manage recreation costs within the amount that area taxpayers and struggling businesses are willing to pay for those services.
Connie Jordison, The Local Weekly

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