After more than 25 years of organizing, planning and lobbying, the District of Vanderhoof has finally secured enough funding for its Aquatic Centre.
“It’s a great day for Vanderhoof,” says Mayor Gerry Thiessen. “The announcement was from the federal Gas Tax. The UBCM and the federal government have given us a grant for $6 million which now puts us over the $12 million that we need for a swimming pool for Vanderhoof.”
No one was more excited about the announcement than Vanderhoof Aquatic Society spokesperson Zoe Dhillion
“I feel absolutely incredible. I couldn’t possibly be happier. It’s amazing – it’s absolutely amazing. We’ve got it! We’re going to have a swimming pool!”
The Aquatic Society raised more than half a million dollars for the project. An additional $100,000 came from the Vanderhoof and District Coop and $4 million came from tax revenue via a 2013 referendum.
Thiessen says they already have a timeline for moving forward.
“It’s happening. My grandchildren – they’re so excited! We’re working on the design, that’s coming through, and that committee will hopefully be finished with their design work this fall. We hope to go to tender and start construction early next year.”
Councillor Brian Frenkel, who has been an advocate of the project since the 80s, was a bit more conservative in his enthusiasm.
“Now the hard work begins. The money’s there, which I thought was the biggest uphill battle but now, getting that done and making sure everything’s right the first time. When we get to developing the architectural and engineering drawings – all have to be accurate before we can even break ground.”
The plans for the 16,000 square foot facility include a 6 lane lap pool, hot tub and leisure pool.
Even though the Aquatic centre will be in Vanderhoof, Thiessen says the project was made possible by surrounding communities and will benefit them as well.
“It’s for the whole region. There were people here from Nak’azdli, from the Regional District and the Nechako Kitimat Development Fund. It was a really large range of people in the community here for this today. So it was an exciting day.”
Frenkel says it was the community’s commitment to the project that secured the remaining funding.
“Usually these projects are a third province, a third federal and a third municipal. This one is, we’ve raised 50% within our community so I think the federal and provincial government looked at that and said, ‘That’s amazing! Here’s another $6 million!’”
Frenkel says the grant is the largest request the District has ever put forward and the largest amount of funding it has ever received.