Consultations won’t be about a pool

The weekly editorial for the 100 Mile Free Press

It’s hard to see a path forward for the new South Cariboo Rec Centre.

The financing plan is yet to be finished before it goes to public consultations but it seems almost irrelevant.

As has been known for a while now, the new design won’t have a pool.

MLA Donna Barnett said at a recent meeting that during the election, “I was amazed at how many people wanted a pool.”

It’s a fair bet that most people wanting a pool will vote no to the current design knowing what passing this design would likely not only mean no pool now but also no pool for many years to come.

It would take time to properly finish the process, build the new facilities after which it would be years (if not decades) before upgrades as substantial as this would be considered. The notion of a pool, rightfully or wrongfully, in some ways is like the Mars Bomber; some are not going to let it go no matter what.

Secondly, though the financing plan is yet to be finished there are bound to be some tax increases; even if they can get enough funding together to cover the full cost of building the new design without any cost to taxpayers, there’ll be maintenance costs that will inevitably end up with the taxpayer. This will create a second group of people who will vote no on the current design.

One would assume the combination of these two groups of no votes, along with some no votes for other miscellaneous reasons (such as the Stan Halcro Arena being demolished to make room), is enough to send them back to the drawing board where they won’t be able to resolve either main issue. Given that knowledge, it’s hard to see anyone have much enthusiasm for creating a new plan.

In the end, a no vote would likely just smother the whole project for years to come. Even if it doesn’t, any revised plan would be fairly similar to the current design.

Ultimately, the public consultations and the current design itself will have wiggle room in terms of what’s actually being proposed but after any changes that fit within the current framework are accommodated, a referendum on the proposed facility would very much be a referendum on whether we get new facilities at all.

The pool supporters will have to decide if they’re willing to risk not having any new facilities for years to come in order to hold onto the slightest glimmer of hope.

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