Just because $23.3 million in renovations at the Penticton Community Centre are expected to be finished on time does not necessarily mean the city will open its pool to users June 1, as originally planned.
City council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to have staff investigate the pros and cons of postponing the opening of the PCC’s pool, or perhaps sections of it, until Sept. 1 for a saving of roughly $100,000 a month.
The idea was proposed by Coun. Mike Pearce during budget deliberations.
“I am (proposing it) for budgetary purposes because we are trying to grab all the dollars we possibly can,” said Pearce, noting that the pool is not used as much in the summer as it is during other times of the year.
Postponing the opening for another three months, he said, would mean more money in the city’s budget for items such as Ironman, community grants or perhaps tax cuts.
Councillors Dan Albas and John Vassilaki supported the idea, with Vassilaki pointing out that council can always vote to switch the opening date back.
“Nothing is written in blood,” said Vassilaki.
Both councillors Judy Sentes and Andrew Jakubeit argued that council should get more information on the matter before making a decision.
“I am pretty sure the community has big expectations for this building and are quite excited about it,” said Jakubeit. “I would like to wait another month or two and also discuss what our fees are going to be before we make a hard-fast decision.”
City CAO Annette Antoniak said Wednesday staff is currently working on an operating plan that will pertain to the decision. Earlier this week, she said, the province announced new safety regulations for municipal pools which will have to be integrated into the plan.
“We are the first new pool that is going under the new guidelines so we are now just finding out what is required in order to get the certification to get up and running,” said Antoniak. “The province hasn’t even finalized their guidelines yet. So we are just putting in calls to see what is required.
“I am confident at this stage that we could have an opening, but what programs would be part of that opening is what is being determined now. Is it just public swimming or are we actually running programs like swim classes? That is the part that is uncertain.”
Mayor Dan Ashton said that for now the plan remains to open the pool in June, although Pearce’s proposal is to come back before council in about two weeks.
“I think people want to see the pool open sooner rather than later,” said Ashton.
“There is all kinds of things we could do with some form of similar consequences, i.e. a loss of opportunity for recreation. But that is the backbone of the community, and with people having to go to Summerland to swim now or to the swim club … there is a push to get the pool open.”