Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit January 11, 2017 - 8:29 am

Mark your calendars: Iqaluit’s aquatic centre opens Jan. 26

Official opening to be followed by two free days of use before fees kick in

LISA GREGOIRE
The lap pool, one of two main pools, gets finishing touches in December. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)
The lap pool, one of two main pools, gets finishing touches in December. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)
Iqaluit's $40.5 million aquatic and fitness facility, more than four years in the making, is set to open in two weeks, on Jan. 26. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)
Iqaluit's $40.5 million aquatic and fitness facility, more than four years in the making, is set to open in two weeks, on Jan. 26. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)

Get your water wings ready Iqalungmiut—the new pool is about to open.

Coun. Jason Rochon announced at a city council meeting Jan. 10 that Iqaluit’s new aquatic centre will officially open Jan. 26 with speeches, a ribbon-cutting, cake to eat and self-guided tours for anyone who wants to take a look around.

The celebration gets underway on the front steps of the new aquatic centre, next to city hall, at noon Jan. 26. Then at 3:30 p.m., the pool and gym will be open for use so bring your bathing suits and running shoes. Admission for the first two days, Jan. 26 and Jan. 27, will be free to the public.

City councillors debated the fee structure at a council meeting Dec. 13 with some councillors balking at the proposed annual memberships—$1,680 for a family pass and $2,100 for both pool and gym membership.

The new fee schedule then passed third reading at a Dec. 28 council meeting.

Coun. Terry Dobbin, a staunch critic of the aquatic centre’s huge price tag, seems to have softened his stance now that the fancy new facility is ready for use.

He said during a break in the Jan. 10 meeting that the opening of the $40.5 million centre is sure to be welcomed by winter-weary Iqalungmiut who have been without a pool since the old one in the Astro Hill Complex closed in 2012 due to expensive repairs.

“A lot of people were wondering, so they’ll be excited about that. I’m sure they’ve been eagerly anticipating it,” Dobbin said. “I’m excited about it.”

They’ve also been without a fitness centre since mid-December, when Atii Fitness closed to move into its new location in the aquatic centre.

The cadillac facility, which will include a six-lane Federation Internationale de Natation standard pool, a wading pool and two fitness rooms and which is the most expense infrastructure project ever undertaken by the City of Iqaluit, was not without controversy.

The idea of spending so many millions on a recreation facility met with fierce opposition in the early days from some councillors—namely Dobbin and former councillor Kenny Bell—who thought the city should be spending money on roads, water and sewage and other much-needed infrastructure instead.

Ratepayers—those who own property in Iqaluit—were asked to give their approval to borrowing up to $40 million for the aquatic centre in an October 2012 vote and they did just that. Of the 49 per cent who cast ballots, 227 voted yes and 172 voted no.

With that, city councillors began planning the massive project, handing the contract over to Stantec Architecture Ltd., designers of public infrastructure worldwide, who promised the facility would garner a “silver” Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design ranking, one up from the minimum “certified” level.

But even former councillor Bell, who voted against spending money on the pool, admitted that while his job as a councillor was to ensure fiscal responsibility, he and his young sons are looking forward to using the pool once it opens.

The grand opening Jan. 26 will be preceded by a media tour in the morning. More details of the opening events, and future pool use, are set to be released in the coming days.

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