If the opinions of a sampling of patrons out enjoying the new, multi-million dollar West Fraser Aquatic Centre Wednesday evening is any indication, the renovated facility will exceed all expectations.
“On a scale of one to 10, I’d give it a 10,” said Hayden Firestone-Meshue, whose mom Sarah Hood surprised her children with an evening at the pool, including Phase Two which boasts a waterslide, lazy river and second pool.
“He has been waiting for months and months and months. He’s a waterbug so it was tough when it was closed,” said Hood.
Hood said the pool is a big part of their family, and they usually go three times a week.
“It’s something we can all do together that is active and has nothing to do with electronics.”
Hayden said his favourite part of the new facility is the waterslide and waterfalls.
Siblings Bryce and Kali Widsten played volleyball using a spray wall as the net, in the shallow pool. They made a special trip from Lac la Hache Wednesday evening just to go to the aquatic centre.
“It’s good. I like it,” said Bryce, who said he likes the waterslide while his sister enjoys the new, large hot tub.
For Nadine Adams and her daughter Veronica, the new pool serves a much greater role in their lives than just being for recreational purposes.
“She’s learning how to walk again,” said Nadine as the two soaked in the hot tub after doing therapy in the shallow pool and river. “The different levels in the water is helping her to balance and walk.”
Veronica, 24, said she is recovering from life-saving surgery in August to remove cancer in her leg. The surgery was successful but will require a lengthy recovery, one made easier thanks to Williams Lake’s state-of-the-art pool.
“She’s fortunate she survived and will walk again,” said Nadine, noting her daughter first walked just two weeks ago and has to re-train other muscles to help her walk again.
With a smile on her face, Veronica said she was impressed with the new facility.
“It’s really nice. I’m surprised how nice it turned out. It’s beautiful.”
As well as the various depths in the pool, the women said they were also very grateful for the facility’s wheelchair accessibility and hand rails throughout to assist in physiotherapy.
“We are finding a lot of places aren’t very wheelchair accessible.”
The two were all smiles as they reentered the shallow pool using one of the facility’s two water wheelchairs.
A grand opening of the West Fraser Aquatic Centre was held Thursday evening. The 350 tickets on offer for the grand opening were gone within a few days.
The completed project includes a new fitness centre, lap tank, swirl pool, steam room and leisure pool. The leisure area features a waterslide, lazy river, tots area, kiddie carwash, teacup fountain, bubble pit, vortex and massage chairs. Phase One of the West Fraser Aquatic Centre opened in August.
The Sam Ketcham Pool upgrade project is a joint initiative of the Cariboo Regional District and City of Williams Lake. Funding partners for the project included Northern Development Initiative Trust, West Fraser Mills and the federal government.