The West Fraser Aquatic Centre was bursting at its freshly-minted seams Sunday when West Fraser is sponsoring a free swim for its staff members and families. Here, Keira Morphet (from left), Mai-Lie Erlandson, Layla Biggar and Courtney Meade enjoy some of the pool’s new amenities. (Greg Sabatino photo)

The West Fraser Aquatic Centre was bursting at its freshly-minted seams Sunday when West Fraser is sponsoring a free swim for its staff members and families. Here, Keira Morphet (from left), Mai-Lie Erlandson, Layla Biggar and Courtney Meade enjoy some of the pool’s new amenities. (Greg Sabatino photo)

Williams Lake Aquatic Centre grand opening celebrated

“The vision is that this improvement will increase the use of the facility by 45,000 swims per year,” said the CRD’s manager of community services.

The West Fraser Aquatic Centre in Williams Lake is a great Christmas present for everyone, said Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett during the newly-renovated facility’s grand-opening held Thursday.

“It’s great for people in the surrounding area and for tourism,” Barnett said. “It’s projects like this that make my job worthwhile.”

With a final project cost of $14.1 million, the Cariboo Memorial Complex now includes a new fitness centre, lap tank, swirl pool, steam room and leisure pool that features a waterslide, lazy river, tots area, kiddie car wash, teacup fountain, bubble pit, vortex and massage chairs.

“This all started in 2011,” said Darron Campbell, manager of community services for the Cariboo Regional District. “To build something like this, it takes a lot of money so we went to referendum in 2014 to borrow up to $10 million to complete the project.”

The referendum passed, but $10 million wasn’t enough, Campbell said, noting it required other partners to come to the table.

In the end, the project received $500,000 from West Fraser, $250,000 from Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT), $500,000 from the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program, $4,427,500 from the federal Gas Tax fund, a $427,500-allocation from the Cariboo Regional District community works funds and $4 million from the Strategic Priorities Fund.

“The vision is that this improvement will increase the use of the facility by 45,000 swims per year,” Campbell said.

Barnett said the pool was made possible because of the taxpayers and funding partners.

“The gas tax fund comes from you the taxpayers,” Barnett said. “You supported something that every community around the area is going to be jealous of.”

She also presented plaques to the City of Williams Lake and Cariboo Regional District in recognition of the pool’s opening.

Representing the NDIT board of directors, Margo Wagner said NDIT was pleased to support the project.

“The addition of the accessible features in the centre will mean that more people can use it,” she said.

Read More: The West Fraser Aquatic Centre now open

West Fraser Williams Lake Plywood manager Dave Walgren said he was very proud to be at the grand opening.

“We have been a proud partner in the community for more than 60 years and excited to contribute to the aquatic centre and expansion of the Sam Ketcham Pool,” Walgren said.

Ketcham was one of the company’s founders, and when the pool first opened in 1980 it was in part in tribute to Ketcham, Walgren added.

“I want to thank the town for supporting our industry over the years,” he said. “We are excited about what this facility will offer our employees and their families.”

Dave Walgren’s comments.

City of Williams Lake councillor Laurie Walters said the City and CRD staff have been invaluable through the entire process, including the various transitions and shut-downs as construction continued.

“Now that our dream has become a reality, we can truly recognize that it has been short-term pain for long-term gain,” Walters said. “I know we are incredibly proud of the new complex and look forward to enjoying this top-quality facility for decades to come.”

CRD Area D director Steve Forseth thanked the City for partnering with the CRD on the project, and Tango Management Group for managing the pool upgrade.

“I also want to thank the local contractors who put their hard work into the project,” Forseth said. “If I start naming all of them it will take another half hour, but what I will tell you is that 55 per cent of the project costs went to local trades which amounts to about $6.6 million. With tough economic times, particularly with the wildfires we had this past summer, I’m proud that this project was able to help support our economy.”

Prior to the grand opening ceremony, the City’s director of community services Geoff Payton gave a tour and said the chlorine used in the pool is run through a different filtration system.

“Before we just had liquid chlorine and that was our only disinfecting agent and now we have ultraviolet (UV) disinfection as well on top of chlorine and newer and better filters so that all helps make the water quality much more improved,” he explained.

Payton also said the water slide does not empty into the pool because that is the new legal requirement for water slides.

In order for the water slide to be open there has to be enough lifeguards on duty for one of them to stand at the top of the stairs to give the go-ahead for the next person to to down the slide.

Under the rules, anyone wanting to go inside the pool area has to be wearing swimming attire, however, Payton said when swim meets are taking place and bleachers and chairs are brought in for spectators, the rule doesn’t apply because the meet organizers rent the entire pool.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Members of the Williams Lake Fire Department responded to the Salvation Army in downtown Williams Lake late Wednesday morning (Nov 25) after cleaning supplies were mixed causing a chemical reaction. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Salvation Army ventilated by Williams Lake Fire Department

Potentially dangerous chemical vapors released after cleaning products mixed

North District RCMP confirmed that Amber Wuetz, 25, was found deceased on Oct. 31. (Photo submitted)
Prince George woman confirmed dead, foul play not suspected

Police confirm Amber Wuetz was found deceased on Oct. 31

As winter gets underway the city is reminding residents of its snow and icy policy and the role residents have in clearing sidewalks and keeping vehicles and carts off the street when snow plows are in the area. (Monica Lamb-Yorski file photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake reminds residents of snow and ice policy requirements

Clearing of snow and ice from sidewalks is responsiblity of property owners

Masks are now officially mandatory in all City of Campbell River facilities. (Black Press File Photo)
Interior Health reports 49 new COVID-19 cases overnight

302 cases remain active; two in hospital

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
Abbotsford mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Barrels pictured outside Oliver winery, Quinta Ferreira, in May. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
B.C. Master of Wine reflects on industry’s teetering economic state

Pandemic, for some wine makers, has been a blessing in disguise. For others, not so much.

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A fentanyl test strip is used at Vancouver Coastal Health in Vancouver, Tuesday, January, 21, 2020. The test strips will be made available to drug users to ensure that their drugs are safe and free of Fentanyl. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Drug overdoses lead to 5 deaths each day in October; drug toxicity continues to increase

COVID-19 crisis continues to exacerbate the overdose crisis

An employee of the Adventure Hotel was taken to hospital on Nov. 20 after she confronted a customer of Empire Coffee about not wearing a mask. File photo.
Nelson hotel employee suffers heart attack after being assaulted in anti-mask incident

An accountant at the Adventure Hotel is in hospital in Kelowna

Damien Smith, with father Thomas Smith, is “frozen” with joy as he watches a special message Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds recorded for Damien’s 9th birthday on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. (Contributed)
Shuswap boy celebrates 9th birthday with family, community and Ryan Reynolds

People from around the world send birthday cards showing young Canoe resident he’s not alone

Most Read