Remaining pool members throw in towel

South Cariboo Aquatic Society decides to dissolve the cause

South Cariboo Health Foundation public relations officer Brenda Devine

South Cariboo Health Foundation public relations officer Brenda Devine

The South Cariboo Aquatic Society (SCAS) executive has decided to dissolve the society.

“With only five existing members, we had nowhere else to go,” says a disappointed SCAS chair John Code.

The SCAS were unable to convince the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) and District of 100 Mile House to take the building of a pool to referendum.

“Without a passed referendum, fundraising, application for government grants or the accepting of donations toward construction is not possible,” Code explains.

“We couldn’t even get licensing for a lottery ticket because licences are not granted unless you are raising money for something tangible.”

Code says the SCAS was told by the CRD from the beginning that the money to build an aquatic facility could be borrowed by the CRD and that SCAS should concentrate on raising awareness of the need of a pool.

“We knew from the very first meeting that the cost to the taxpayer would be the biggest issue, and our society proposed various scenarios to the CRD to reduce the tax costs.

“But the CRD went with the phone survey with the all-in cost of a $135 per $100,000 tax increase to build the aquatic facility.”

The phone survey carried out by Discovery Research showed that the public awareness of the pool project (87 per cent) was extremely high.

The research company, hired by the CRD and the District conducted the survey in the fall of 2014 to gauge the level of support for the development of an aquatic centre in 100 Mile House.

A decision was made by the joint committee to pay for a feasibility study for an aquatic centre, CRD chair Al Richmond says, adding they wanted the public to be fully informed.

He adds they had suggested the aquatic society to be careful about raising people’s expectations.

“We spent the money on the phone survey to find out what the public really thought, Richmond says, adding that it was necessary to start with the cost of the project.

“We didn’t get the indication there was enough support; it was largely around costs.” “This was a South Cariboo Joint Committee decision not the CRD’s, Mayor Mitch Campsall says, adding they didn’t have significant numbers to go forward.

“If it was a majority, we would have definitely gone forward with the referendum.”

Campsall adds the way the system works is that money is “borrowed” by the CRD on behalf of the South Cariboo residents.

“Most referendums on recreational facilities would set up a tax for operational costs and servicing the debt on a percentage of capital, Code says.

He adds the remainder of capital costs would come from fundraising, donations and grants from federal and provincial governments.

“This would have reduced the $135 per $100,000 to the taxpayer.”

The members worked hard and deserve a huge thank-you, Code says, adding they spent countless hours as well as their own gas money to promote the aquatic centre.

“We feel bad about all the businesses and individuals who donated time, money and purchased memberships to help us with our dream of a public pool.

“Hopefully, someone will pick up the torch, and with the change of the federal government, maybe there will be more funding for recreation.”

Part of dissolving of the society includes dispersing of funds, says Code.

They will be donating to other groups who promote the same ideals as SCAC: recreation; public health; and wellbeing.

“We’ll be donating $1,000 to the 100 Mile House Waterpark Society and $2,800 to the South Cariboo Health Foundation.”