THE District and City of North Vancouver will not be pooling their resources for a new 50-metre swimming facility at the Harry Jerome Recreation Centre, following district council's decision to turn down the city's funding request Monday.
The city is considering adding a $28-million, Olympic-sized pool to the rebuilt Harry Jerome centre after being besieged by aquatics groups earlier this fall.
"The district (of North Vancouver) is the lynchpin here. If you can't get them on board, it's not going to happen," Coun. Pam Bookham said when the city debated the issue earlier this fall.
Doubling the pool size would give the city a facility that could serve as host for swim meets, attract new users and be a boon to local physiotherapy, according to Linda Sullivan, who lobbied the city on behalf of about 20 different swimming groups.
The bill for the district would be $10 million plus operating costs.
"I cannot recall us being asked for a capital contribution for a facility that's not within our municipality," said Coun. Lisa Muri.
With annual operating costs that could climb beyond $750,000, Muri was not swayed by the promise of tourism and provincial swimming tournaments.
"There is not a huge financial benefit," she said. Funding a 25-m pool at the William Griffin Recreation Centre while the city funds a 25-m pool at Harry Jerome two kilometres away is foolish, according to Coun. Alan Nixon.
"It is verging on the nonsensical for two municipalities to build two potentially substandard pools," he said.
Nixon was the only councillor in the 50-m pool.
He called for collaboration between the municipalities beyond the North Vancouver Recreation Commission, which he called restrictive. "I think the recreation commission as it exists today under the joint agreement should be blown up and a whole new model should emerge," Nixon said.
As a former swimmer and water polo player, Coun. Robin Hicks lamented the lack of international-standard facilities on the North Shore while acknowledging the project's challenging finances.
"The incremental costs at this stage I think far outweigh the benefits that residents as a whole would receive," he said.
Hick said he'd been approached by swimming groups who advocated for the pool but did not offer a meaningful financial contribution.
Funding the difference between a 25-m and 50-m pool should be augmented with contributions from swimming and diving clubs, said Coun. Mike Little. "I still think that at its core the aquatics groups need to get together," he said. "There were all these assertions that there was enough support in the community for this, but there was no demonstration of that support."
With three pools in the district, funding another in the city doesn't make much sense, according to Coun. Roger Bassam.
"It would be great for them just to build a 50-m pool. They have the financial resources," Bassam said, acknowledging he was risking the ire of the neighbouring council.
Bassam said he was committed to the William Griffin project and mindful of a looming upgrade at the Ron Andrews Community Recreation Centre pool in the next 10 years.
He added that better organization among aquatics groups in the future might result in a bigger pool.
For Bassam, the conundrum also demonstrated the need for amalgamation. "We need to get to a single municipal government as soon as we possibly can," he said.
Council voted 6-1 against sharing pool costs with the city, with Nixon as the lone objector.
© Copyright 2013