A closer look at Magrath’s pool upgrades

In 2020 the town of Magrath decided to go ahead with the construction of a new outdoor pool to replace the one that had been built in the 80’s and that the Town council and administration agreed had “come to the end of its useful life”. The old pool racked up high maintenance costs just to open each year, and the town had been considering the project for some time while looking for the best way to pay for the new project. After several years of grant applications, the local recreation committee finally received the Community Facility Enhancement Program grant (CFEP) from the Alberta Government in 2020. This grant was the game changer that “put the decision of construction into the go zone” according to Magrath’s Chief Administrative Officer, James Suffredine. “Once town council authorized construction of the pool, a request for proposal was created by administration and we ultimately selected Western Recreation as the company to build our pool, for a total construction cost of 1.8 million dollars,” he shared in a recent interview with the Temple City Star.

The overall price reflects the highly desirable new features, which are significant. Under construction, with bases fully poured now, are both the 25 metre junior olympic competition pool, and a family-friendly leisure pool. The leisure pool will feature a young-child friendly fiberglass slide, multiple water play-and-spray features, a jet-powered whirling vortex, and a partitioned 25-centimeter-deep toddler pool. The construction was slated to be complete by June 1st of 2021 but, as usual, COVID has thrown a wrench in the plans. Suffredine explains “we expect that the pools will be ready on schedule but the one area we didn’t have full assurance on is waterslides -- we ordered them and there have been covid-related manufacturing delays, but hope to get one installed by the end of June, and the other after the first season.” The waterslides will both have run-out exits, with one being a pro-racer straight double slide and the other a figure-eight twister slide. When interviewed about the feature specifics, Mayor Russ Barnett adds ““we tried to include a little bit of everything so we could fill a certain niche and separate ourselves from what our neighbours have done.”

The town received ample fundraising support for these amazing new features. Cardston County contributed $200,000 as part of the Inter-municipal collaboration framework (ICF), Richardsen Pioneer donated $50,000, and the recreation group raised $23,000 as part of a golf tournament, and “individual community members have also been very generous including some donations of as much as $10,000 or $20,000 personally” Suffredine shares. “Prior to the local community’s donations, the money from Cardston County, Westwind School Division, government grants, and the town’s own reserves had got the project to just a little under 1.5 million dollars. Now with the fundraising we only have about $155,000 left to reach our funding goal” he says. While capital costs to build the structure are easily measurable, what is harder to budget for are the ongoing operational costs. “We know operational costs will increase” Suffredine adds.

Even with increasing operational expenses, Suffredine says that “it’s an exciting project for the community”. The plans were made with the town’s demographics in mind, according to Mayor Barnett, who shares “we have a fairly high population of young parents with young children in Magrath so this facility is something we certainly need.” Barnett admits that a pool upgrade is long overdue and thinks “this will be a highly-used amenity that will appeal to all age groups and be an overall enhancement to the town.” While council acknowledges that the invested time and money may not be realized in the way originally planned due to COVID restrictions, they hope to find a way to open this summer and will look at every option as the construction nears completion. Barnett states “despite the fact that the previous pool was underused, we know the community is excited about the new facility, and we look forward to increased attendance.”

Elizabeth Thompson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temple City Star