Pool Referendum FAQ

Main Floor Artis rendering of proposed pool upgrades

The Quesnel and District Arts and Recreation Centre pool facilities need upgrades. The scope of the proposed project includes retention of the existing 25-metre pool, replacement of the tile around the pool, demolition of the existing leisure pool, hot tub, and saunas, construction of a new leisure pool, whirlpool, and saunas, and renovated family change rooms. The project’s cost estimate is approximately $20 million. It is necessary to gain public approval via referendum to borrow the funds necessary for the work to be done.

Referendum

A referendum voting day of Saturday, June 19 has been selected for eligible voters to register their support for borrowing money ($20 million) to finance the project. If the referendum question succeeds and the project moves forward, tax rates on properties within the service boundary will increase by roughly $45 per $100,000, beginning with the 2022 tax year.

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What is the proposed upgrade?

The project includes the replacement of the existing leisure pool, hot tub, and saunas. A new, larger leisure pool featuring a lazy river, tots’ play area, and a gradual entry is one of the key components of the project.

Other planned improvements include a new raised viewing area, and improvements to the change rooms, including individual rooms with doors, to better meet the needs of families and people with disabilities.

What will happen with the 25-metre pool?

The 25-metre lap pool will not be replaced. However, upgrades will be made to the area around the pool. A new gutter system, deck tiles, and repairs to electrical equipment such as underwater lighting are planned.

How would this upgrade benefit users?

The new, larger leisure pool will be fully accessible ­ to accommodate the needs of people with a disability. It will also be considerably warmer than the 25-metre pool and suitable for those patrons needing a warm pool for hydrotherapy and exercise.

Additional program space with lanes to accommodate lessons, fitness classes, and length swimming are also planned for the new leisure pool.

Between the 25-metre lap pool and the new larger leisure pool, the facility will be better able to accommodate the program needs of multiple users. The renovated family change rooms will benefit families and people with a disability by providing secure and private change rooms.

How will this upgrade impact the community?

Pools, rinks, and recreational facilities deliver a positive impact to the community beyond existing users. Areas with strong infrastructure and new facilities have a proven advantage in attracting new investment, potential workers, and those with a variety of residency options, such as retirees. A growing trend toward remote working further expands the potential workforce for Cariboo communities, and upgrades such as this project are crucial in attracting long-term in-migration, particularly from families.

What will it cost?

The estimated capital cost for the project is $20 million, which includes design and construction. If the project goes ahead, the estimated net operating costs for centre would increase by approximately $200,000 per year, due to the additional staffing, maintenance, and utility costs for the larger facility. Ongoing operational costs will be included in the arts and recreation centre budget.

How will it be paid for?

Through this referendum, the CRD and the City of Quesnel are asking permission to borrow $20 million over 25 years for the project costs. To lower the amount of borrowing and the effect on local taxation, the City of Quesnel and Cariboo Regional District will also seek out grants and funding programs for the project. Obtaining authorization to borrow up to the full project cost will ensure that the project can move forward without delay if the referendum passes.

What will happen if the referendum does not pass?

If the referendum does not pass the project will not proceed as proposed.

How will a failed referendum impact the Centre?

After four decades of use, the current facility is showing its age in a variety of ways. Mechanical, electrical, and other systems within the facility will still require upgrades, repairs, or replacement in the coming years, even in the referendum fails.

If a significant investment into the Aquatic Centre is not made soon, the facility will become increasingly outdated. A substantial capital investment to address the basic mechanical, electrical, and structural needs of this aging 40-year old infrastructure would be necessary.

How much would it cost just to do necessary maintenance and equipment replacement?

In 2017 the City of Quesnel and Cariboo Regional District looked into the feasibility of performing repairs and upgrades without including any new or expanded amenities. The estimated cost to complete that scope of work in 2022 dollars is $6.5 million.

What is the effect on property taxes?

To pay for the construction and operating costs of the project, residents within the boundaries of the sub-regional recreation taxation area would see a tax rate increase of about $45 per $100,000 on the assessed value of land and improvements. For example, if your home and property were valued at $200,000, you would see a tax increase of about $90 per year.

What is the cost of sub-regional recreation taxes now?

The 2021 North Cariboo Recreation and Parks residential taxation rate is about $144 per $100,000 of assessed value. This pays for the Quesnel and District Arts and Recreation Centre, West Fraser Centre and Arena 2, Alex Fraser Park, the indoor turf facility, West Fraser Timber Park and the riverfront trail as well as rural recreation properties in Bouchie Lake, Barlow Creek and Ten Mile Lake.

Where is the recreation services taxation boundary?

The sub-regional recreation taxation area covers portions of electoral areas A, B, C and I and the City of Quesnel and includes the rural communities of Bouchie Lake, Barlow Creek, Ten Mile Lake/Moose Heights, Red Bluff and the West Fraser road area. A map of the taxation area is attached and also available on the Cariboo Regional District website at www.cariboord.ca.

Do City and Regional District taxpayers pay the same rate for recreation services?

Yes. The tax rates for recreation services are the same regardless if properties are in the City of Quesnel or in the surrounding area of the Regional District.

Why a pool upgrade instead of other recreation services?

Residents of the City of Quesnel and surrounding CRD electoral areas identified this work as a priority in a 2014 survey ranking potential recreation projects.

Why isn’t a waterslide part of the project?

The addition of a waterslide was estimated to add $3 million to the construction cost and an additional $60,000 - $100,000 in annual operating costs.

Through consultation with other facilities we determined that waterslides are often popular when they are first installed; but over time they become underutilized and cost prohibitive to operate.

It was determined that it was better to invest in a large state-of-the art leisure pool that will be used extensively by a wide range of ages and abilities.

Will other parts of the Arts and Recreation Centre be upgraded at the same time?

The primary focus of the project is the pool area however some additional work to other parts of the building are planned. The most notable upgrade will be the replacement of the facility’s exterior siding. The project will also include replacement of outdated solar panels and mechanical and electrical equipment.

How long will construction take?

Construction is targeted to begin in 2022 and take between 12 – 14 months.

Why aren’t you keeping the facility open during the upgrades?

Closing the entire pool area during the full construction period will allow the project to be completed faster and at a much lower cost. As well, the new leisure pool, hot tub, and saunas will be constructed in the same general location as the features they are replacing­ making it impossible to keep these areas open to the public.

Can’t you keep the lap pool open if it is not being replaced?

While the 25-metre lap pool will not be demolished, a considerable amount of the work is planned in the area of the pool, such as replacing the deck tiles and gutter system. Public access will not be possible when this work is in progress. In addition, keeping the lap pool open, even for limited times during construction, would increase the complexity of the project, adding an estimated $4 million to the project cost and three months to the schedule. 

What other areas of the Centre will be impacted?

Other areas of the facility are expected to remain open as much as possible during construction. Periodic closures however, may be required. The gym is expected to remain open for most of the upgrade, although access to the change rooms may be impacted from time to time. Most programs, rentals, and other activities and services are expected to continue with only minimal periodic disruptions.

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