If Fredericton is going to have a competitive aquatic centre, suburban areas will have to help finance it, a councillor says.
When the University of New Brunswick's Sir Max Aitken pool closes in the fall of 2018, it will leave several swimming and diving teams without a place to practise or compete.
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Jennifer Andrews is part of a citizens group trying to get a pool for the capital region. She gave a presentation to the City of Fredericton's community service committee at a meeting attended by more than 100 people who support a new pool.
"The committee seemed very receptive," said Andrews.
"They're interested in working on a regional partnership, so that's actually very positive news."
Making the rounds
The group, Capital Region Aquatics Facility Team, or CRAFT, also made presentations to Hanwell and New Maryland town councils, and will go to Oromocto as well.
"The next step will be, I assume, preparing a business plan, giving a presentation to Oromocto, meeting with more provincial officials, to try and move that forward," "Andrews said.
Coun. Steven Hicks, the committee chair, agreed a pool is needed but said it would have to be a regional project, with regional funding.
That may be difficult, given the record. Communities outside Fredericton rejected a similar approach to a new performing arts centre.
"I don't know, for whatever reason, they decided not to get involved but I have my opinion that maybe they thought Fredericton was just going to do it," said Hicks.
Wants outer areas to pay fair share
He said Fredericton has grown, and Fredericton taxpayers can't support the needs of the greater Fredericton community.
"We're a city of 60,000 people, and we can no longer build multimillion-dollar facilities for a region of 120 (thousand)," Hicks said. "It's just not fair to the taxpayers."
But he said if other communities to agree to help fund the pool, Fredericton will likely help as well.
"We can't do that anymore so we need the partners to come on board. And if they come on board, I'm sure Fredericton will be there."
Andrews said she doesn't think that will be a problem.
Users live throughout region
"We have a lot of parents and users who are from those communities, so they're extremely interested in getting those communities on board," said Andrews.
"Because it's a cradle-to-grave sport, and a cradle-to-grave activity, it makes it a very, I think, a very easy situation to get funding at those multiple levels."
Hicks said that in the meantime, city council will look into the possibility of extending the life of the Sir Max Aitken Pool with UNB.