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New Fredericton aquatic centre planning continues, but still years away from opening

The region has been exploring the feasibility of a new pool since it was announced in 2017 that the Sir Max Aitken pool on the UNB campus would be decommissioned. (Fredericton Diving Club - image credit)
The region has been exploring the feasibility of a new pool since it was announced in 2017 that the Sir Max Aitken pool on the UNB campus would be decommissioned. (Fredericton Diving Club - image credit)

Work on a new aquatic centre in Fredericton is continuing behind the scenes, but it will be years before a new pool is open.

The region has been exploring the feasibility of a new pool since it was announced in 2017 that the Sir Max Aitken pool on the University of New Brunswick campus would be decommissioned.

Brett McCrea, executive director of the Regional Service Commission, said he expects the project will send out a request for proposals from architects in the coming weeks.

"We had a really productive year [last] year, I would say, from the Regional Service Commission perspective," said McCrea.

Joe McDonald/CBC
Joe McDonald/CBC

The commission spent a lot of time last year developing a governance structure with the city and neighbouring municipalities, he said.

Details to be ironed out

Right now the commission is developing a request for proposals framework so companies can submit for the aquatic centre. But questions such as where the pool will be located, and what it will look like, are still up in the air.

"There have been a number of locations discussed over the years. I believe the most recent location that's been discussed is adjacent to the Grant-Harvey Centre," said McCrea.

"When we talk about location, the size of the pool, what exactly would be included in a facility … all of that will be determined during the design phase itself."

Gary Moore/CBC
Gary Moore/CBC

McCrea said the commission has spoken with both the provincial and federal governments about funding but no firm commitments are in place yet.

An agreement with UNB means its pool remains open for now, but it will eventually have to close.

Chris Ramsey, president of the Fredericton Regional Aquatic Centre, said the need for a pool in Fredericton is growing.

He said even with the city's three pools, including the Fredericton Indoor Pool and the YMCA pool, space is limited for youth looking to get involved with swimming.

"You take the local swim team … that program turned away 70 kids this year that could not get into the program because there's not enough lane space in town," said Ramsey.

"The project is absolutely critical to deal with those capacity issues."