Public swimming pool in Parksville touted as solution for community buy-in

Public swimming pool in Parksville touted as solution for community buy-in

The future funding model for public swimming pools is still up in the air for the Oceanside area of the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN), but a solution may lie in Parksville.

The RDN has been contemplating changes to the model, which has not been popular with everyone, but some mayors believe the entire community may agree if a new swimming pool is built in Parksville.

The Ravensong Aquatic Centre in Qualicum Beach was built nearly 30 years ago, and with population growth in the region, it’s no longer big enough for all the demand.

“We feel that if a pool was to be considered for the Parksville area, it would take a lot of the pressure off Ravensong,” said Doug O’Brien, Parksville’s mayor and an RDN director.

This past week at a special Regional District of Nanaimo meeting, the board was considering a proposed funding change for the Ravensong pool, or future pools in the region, that would now start to include taxpayers in Nanoose Bay — known as Area E.

Numerous people who spoke at the meeting said those in Nanoose Bay have never paid taxes for Ravensong, and the proposed funding model is unfair to their community.

“Area E accounts for less than four per cent of use, and we’re being asked to contribute almost 12 per cent of the cost. The population of Area E between 2010 and 2015, when you did your surveys, has increased by eight per cent, but our usage has dropped by 18 per cent,” said Trish Widdershoven, a Nanoose Bay resident.

Mayor O’Brien says the City of Parksville is looking at potential locations for a public pool, and he believes the people of Nanoose Bay could get on board with helping fund a pool in Parksville.

“Absolutely, I’ve spoken to numerous Area E residents, and they’ve mentioned that the Ravensong Pool they don’t utilize it much because it’s simply too far distance-wise, but when asked if they would participate in a Parksville pool, they said absolutely,” said O’Brien.

He says Parksville residents have petitioned for a new public pool in the past. He campaigned on bringing one to a vote and says a new pool would have to receive referendum approval with construction costs nowadays.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Qualicum Beach says a new pool in addition to Ravensong makes a lot of sense, but all surrounding areas, including Nanoose Bay, would need to participate.

“I think if we plan things properly, it won’t be too much of a burden for the taxpayers if we share the load,” said Teunis Westbroek, who is also an RDN director.

Some presenters at the board meeting from Nanoose Bay said they would support a funding model based on how much Area E residents use the community swimming pools.

The board voted to re-establish a committee that will work on an acceptable funding model that it can recommend to the board in the future.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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