Recreation Society looking into how, if and should a lap pool be built on Gabriola

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Monday, April 29 2013

The Gabriola Recreation Society is embarking on a study to see what the cost would be for a lap pool to be built on Gabriola.

Glen Murphy, one of the directors of the recreation society, is heading up the study.

The discussion about a pool started at the society’s regular March meeting, where it was suggested that if the rec. society has a surplus of funds available, could those funds be used towards the construction of such a pool.

Regional Director Howard Houle, in consulting with Regional District of Nanaimo staff, said because those surplus funds come from a tax function which is specifically for recreation programming, not facilities, the funds could not be used for construction of a pool.

He said the RDN contracts the GRS “for recreational services and just that. Your bylaws and constitution say you can build facilities, but it is not what we contract you for.”

The surplus funds are ones that come from the monies paid by the RDN to the GRS for recreational programming. 

They are set aside and held by the RDN as an account specifically for Area B recreation. There is currently $60,000 sitting in that fund, with the potential of another $45,000 joining it this year.

The funds could, however, be used post-construction (if that ever happened) for funding recreational programs, according to Howard.

At the April recreation society meeting, society director Sarah Kostiw asked what sites there are on Gabriola for a lap pool.

Virginia Ebbels, GRS manager, said the options would be at Rollo McClay, Huxley and Descanso Bay parks.

André Lemieux and Howard both pointed out that Descanso Bay would be the ideal site, with there already being a manager in place for the RDN campground there.

André said the idea has come forward at different times.

“As a recreational provider, we know [swimming] is a popular program. We were using a lap pool in the past which was owned by a private individual. I think the idea [from the GRS] is that we spearhead the idea of a pool. We research it and look in to the possibility on how we could achieve that project.”

Howard said the GRS could start the conversation on whether islanders want a pool, and if they want to pay for it.

“You are going to have to give people an idea of what it’s going to cost.

“If there is enough community support for that, then we could go to a referendum on that.”

He reminded the GRS board a referendum could cost between $15,000 and $20,000.

“There would have to be a big push from a community that wishes to build a pool. A pool is the most expensive [facility] you can build.

“If the community rises up and says absolutely not, then it’s dead in the water. 

“Lots of people want a pool, it’s a question of whether they want to pay for it.”

Sam Betts, the GRS director who also represents GRS on the Parks and Open Spaces Advisory Committee (POSAC), said he believed it is better for people to go to Nanaimo to use a pool, rather than having one on Gabriola. 

“Pools are expensive ... on the other hand, it keeps coming up, we might as well research it.”

Howard also cautioned that currently, because Gabriola pays into the southern recreational agreement with the City of Nanaimo, islanders are able to use the sports facilities in Nanaimo at the same rate as city residents.

“We want to make sure if we build a pool we don’t remove ourselves from that agreement.”

André pointed out that if there was a pool on Gabriola, the island could potentially stay in the agreement, and it would mean people from Nanaimo could come to the island to use the pool.

Howard reiterated, “if you have an idea that is supported by the community, in the end the taxpayer will have to ante up and take on the tax funds.”

George said, “I would like to leave this that we have a decision that Glen will still work over the course of the summer, get some answers and make suggestions.”