Cariboo Regional District and Williams Lake tax payers will get to have their say during the next election on whether or not they want to pay for upgrades to the Sam Ketchum Memorial Pool.
Now let’s just hope they go for it.
The CRD and City deserve credit for coming up with a conservative, common-sense approach to the proposed project which would see the current main pool and its mechanical systems replaced and a new leisure pool added onto the existing Cariboo Memorial Complex building, where the gym and change rooms currently are.
A big bonus of the design (besides the possible option of a waterslide for kids) is that it would allow the construction to be done in phases so the community will never be without a pool.
The concept also calls for the addition of a second floor above the existing change rooms to house multi-use and fitness space and expanded change rooms.
The decision to proceed with a referendum was made during the Nov. 29 Cariboo Regional District Board of Directors meeting and will allow officials to ask voters if they approve of borrowing up to $10 million over 20 years for the upgrades.
The CRD/City said the remainder of the cost of the approximately $11.3 million project would need to be made up from grants, fundraising, and capital reserves.
If voters say yes to the project, it would result in a tax increase of about $40 per $100,000 of residential assessment.
Yes, $11 million is a lot of money to end up with essentially the same main pool, but really what other choice do we have?
At this particular time the province and the feds are holding on tight to any money they have, and it would be very unlikely that local taxpayers would agree to shoulder a new, even more expense multiplex, like the kind we would all love to have.
And, we haven’t heard of any big businesses beating down doors to sponsor a multiplex mega project in Williams Lake.
Taxpayers should also remember if they choose to shelve this project like they did once before, the 30-year-old pool would still need a $2 million reno just to fix the existing tank.
It sounds like residents will be receptive to the project, though.
According to the Pool Task Force, the proposed concept was the “overwhelming choice” of stakeholders and residents during public consultation last year.
That is, after they all finished venting their ongoing bitterness toward the Tourism Discovery Centre.