Yellowknifers approve city's plan for new aquatic centre in referendum

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The Ruth Inch Memorial Pool in Yellowknife on Aug. 27, 2020. The City of Yellowknife's proposal to build a new aquatic centre was essentially approved by mail in ballots tabulated Tuesday. (Walter Strong/CBC - image credit)
The Ruth Inch Memorial Pool in Yellowknife on Aug. 27, 2020. The City of Yellowknife's proposal to build a new aquatic centre was essentially approved by mail in ballots tabulated Tuesday. (Walter Strong/CBC - image credit)

Yellowknifers voted by mail-in ballot, and at polling stations Tuesday evening, to approve the city's plan to borrow up to $10 million to build a new aquatic centre.

The referendum was to give the City of Yellowknife the authority to borrow up to $10 million to help finance a new pool and aquatic centre in the city to replace the aging Ruth Inch Memorial Pool. The city needed approval from voters to borrow the money.

City manager Sheila Bassi-Kellett told reporters during a press briefing Tuesday evening that a majority of voters had approved the borrowing. The final count was 1857 in favour, 735 against.

"We are pleased with the outcome," she said. "We think this is a very significant milestone for Yellowknife."

Bassi-Kellet said it is unclear how many eligible voters could've participated in the referendum.

Building the proposed Aquatic Centre will cost almost $68 million, but renovating the pool was expected to cost $41 million. The city had already secured $12.9 million in federal funding that can only be invested in building a new facility and cannot be spent on renovations.

Bassi-Kellet said the Ruth Inch Memorial Pool will continue to be maintained until the new aquatic centre opens.

Construction is scheduled to begin in 2022 and finish in 2024. Annual municipal taxes are expected to increase by an estimated 1.27 per cent to cover the annual costs of the facility, once the new aquatic centre opens.

What remains is for the second reading of the borrowing bylaw on Dec. 13, and ministerial approval according to the Cities, Towns and Villages Act, from Municipal and Community Affairs Minister Shane Thompson.

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