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Funding the Reopening of Gibsons Pool

Funding the Reopening of Gibsons Pool

The Town will offer to pay the SCRD’s capital costs related to reopening the Gibsons pool in 2020.
The pool has remained closed since the SCRD shuttered its public recreation facilities in mid-March to help stem the transmission of COVID-19. In September, it reopened the Sechelt Aquatic Centre, the dry floor at Sechelt Arena and the ice-surface at Gibsons Recreation Centre on a limited basis.
The SCRD Board was unwilling to fund the additional capital and operational costs related to operating the pool under pandemic protocols for the remainder of this year. It committed to re-evaluate the pool’s status as of 2021. The protocols would involve capital improvements including plexiglass screening at the admissions desk. SCRD staff have estimated those costs at less than $10,000.
At its Oct 21 meeting, Town Council approved accessing up to $5000 from its Muriel Haynes Trust Fund to pay those costs. That fund was set up in 2004, with just over $131,000 gift from Haynes, a resident of the nearby Elphinstone area, who passed away that year. She had been a patron and volunteer instructor at the pool. The funds were to help add a training and public use room to the then Town owned facility. Within two years of the fund’s establishment, operation of the Gibsons pool was transferred to the SCRD’s regional recreation program. The Town retained the fund, which has not been accessed to improve the pool. The current balance is over $204,000.
Reopening the pool under COVID protocols also means increased cleaning costs and allowing fewer swimmers into the facility. Those changes were estimated to increase the pool’s operating budget by $61,000 for the rest of 2020, had it reopened in September.
Gibsons Council will also be asking the SCRD to look at the costs of adding the requested multi-use room to that site. At the meeting, Councillor Aleria Ladwig said she could not understand why the trust fund money has not been used to make the improvements the donor contributed toward. Mayor Bill Beamish explained that making capital improvements at the facility was now an SCRD Board decision, given that it is operated under the regional recreation umbrella. It was noted that the available balance in the trust fund is not enough to add a room to a public use facility. Ladwig said that getting an estimate for the work would be the first step, and negotiating “who pays and how much” could be discussed later.

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