News

Expansion plan in the works for pool in Qualicum Beach

CANDACE WU

news@pqbnews.com

In a weighted vote, Regional District of Nanaimo directors moved to amend their five-year financial plan to include the cost of potentially expanding Ravensong Aquatic Centre in 2018.

"It's a fairly big issue," said chairperson Joe Stanhope, who said he supported the potential of the project, but voted against it Tuesday night.

Along with Stanhope, a majority of RDN directors voted against the motion, but due to the nature of the weighed voting system, the motion was passed.

Of the topics raised at the meeting, the Ravensong Aquatic Centre expansion drew the most concern.

Area H director Bill Veenhof was vocal about his apprehensions questioning the need for construction. Specifically, he pointed to the new wellness centre and increased lobby space in the pool's expansion plans as examples of unnecessary development.

"I don't see the underlying justification for this," said Veenhof.

Additionally, Area F director Julian Fell said he did not feel the construction plan complied with the needs of the public.

"I was at the public delegation where people said there was a shortage of space in the change rooms, particularly for women who seem to be 95 per cent of the users. Change rooms were hardly changed (in the expansion plans)," said Fell. "I presume this is a very preliminary design."

However, Qualicum Beach director Dave Willie supported the expansion by voting to carry the motion, along with Parksville director Marc Lefevbre.

"I want to put it (the Ravensong Aquatic Centre expansion) in the budget plan," said Willie. "It authorizes staff — if finalized — to start the process of bringing it to the board."

Willie added that he would ideally like to see the project sped up, as he believes there is a strong need for change.

The high volume of senior users speaks to the demographic of Parksville Qualicum Beach, he noted.

"Most people recognize that age contributes to your muscles and bones so swimming is a major plus. There's not anyone who wouldn't recommend it," said Willie. "A lot of people use the pool as a lap pool and they don't want 15 year old kids whizzing past them."

Moreover, Willie said residents are taking their children or grandchildren to Nanaimo for a more youth-friendly recreation centre.

“I think there is a legitimate concern out there,” said Willie, referring to cost considerations.

“But I think it would be a good thing.”

The RDN procured the services of Hughes Condon Marler Architects (HCMA) to provide cost estimates for an expansion of Ravensong Aquatic Centre.

According to HCMA’s 2013 feasibility review report, the projected cost of the reconstruction and renovation would be $7,825,420.

This includes renovating the change rooms and staff area, as well as constructing a new pool, administration area, control area, entry lobby, wellness centre and multi purpose room. It also includes a sprinkler upgrade.

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