Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit August 29, 2012 - 11:47 am

Iqaluit ratepayers to vote Oct. 15 in $40 million borrowing referendum

“A new aquatics centre is badly needed”

SAMANTHA DAWSON
This computer-generated graphic, released last year, shows part of the aquatics facility the City of Iqaluit proposes building in the empty lot behind city hall. To pay for it, they will seek permission from ratepayers to borrow up to $40 million.
This computer-generated graphic, released last year, shows part of the aquatics facility the City of Iqaluit proposes building in the empty lot behind city hall. To pay for it, they will seek permission from ratepayers to borrow up to $40 million.

Iqaluit City Council voted Aug. 28 to hold a referendum among Iqaluit ratepayers to approve the borrowing of up to $40 million to pay for construction of a new aquatic centre in the vacant lot behind city hall.

The ratepayers’ referendum would occur at the same time as the Oct. 15 municipal election.

Only Iqaluit ratepayers — businesses and homeowners who own property and pay property taxes — would be eligible to vote in the borrowing referendum.

The ballot question will ask ratepayers to agree that the City of Iqaluit may borrow up to $40 million to build the aquatic centre. 

A “yes” vote would show support to start work on the project. It would also permit the city to enact a bylaw authorizing it to borrow funds for the project.

A “no” vote would force the city to consider the option of a lease-to-own arrangement for a new aquatic centre, which would replace Iqaluit’s aging Astro Hill pool.

The lease for that space on Astro Hill is set to expire March 2013.

Right now, only 35 swimmers are permitted in the pool at any one time and children wait for hours in line outside the pool before scheduled public swims hoping to get in, a city news release said.

The new facility would include a 25-metre pool with six lanes, an additional leisure pool, a water slide, a party and training room, whirlpool, sauna, fitness centre, elders’ area, retail space and a food and beverage kiosk.

Designs for the facility were unveiled last year.

“A new aquatics centre is badly needed,” the director of recreation for the City of Iqaluit, Amy Elgersma, said in the release.

This proposal comes after two years of planning, including a feasibility study.

“Business planning indicates that the City of Iqaluit needs this new aquatic centre and can afford it,” the news release said.

The aquatic centre would mean significant social, economic and health benefits for the community, the release said.

“The current lease is set to expire, with a possibility of it not being renewed, so it is important that the aquatic centre is built as soon as possible,” Elgersma said.

In the last Iqaluit ratepayers vote in 2006, the borrowing of $18 million over five years for a new city hall was rejected, as well as borrowing for a new recreation centre, which would have included a replacement pool.

If the project goes ahead, it is likely that the current pool would be shut down.

Information will be mailed out to Iqaluit residents in early September about the project and posted on the City of Iqaluit website and the Piqutivut-Building Our Capital Facebook page.

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