Monday , 23 May 2022

Cold Lake residents voice support for proposed Aquatics Centre

Warm water, play features, opportunities for youth swimming lessons, and consistency of access/availability are just some of the amenities Cold Lake residents would like to see in a proposed new Aquatics Centre at the Energy Centre, after the City conducted a major public engagement campaign in March.

“For years, residents in the area have been telling us that they very much want to see an aquatics centre built in Cold Lake, and we are closer now than we’ve ever been to making that a reality,” said Mayor Craig Copeland. “Council earmarked some money in this year’s budget for an architect to come up with a conceptual design for the facility, but we wanted to have our residents and stakeholder groups weigh in first with what they’d like to see.”

The public engagement consisted of an online survey, an in-person information session at the Energy Centre, and one-on-one feedback sessions with several stakeholder groups in the community. 1,287 people completed the online survey, representing a significant sample size from which the City is able to extract data. Approximately 250 people attended the public information session, and 10 stakeholder groups provided individualized feedback.

Among the findings:

  • 88% of respondents said “very important” or “somewhat important” when asked, “How important is a new pool to you?”
  • 94% of respondents agreed a pool should provide young children with a fun leisure aquatics experience.
  • 90% of respondents agreed a pool should provide fitness opportunities for adults and seniors, and that it should be fully accessible for people in wheelchairs or with other physical disabilities.

Residents were asked to identify key activities they consider a priority for a new pool, and to rank them from most to least relevant. The results show recreational swimming and swim lessons rank the highest.

  1. Recreational and leisure swimming
  2. Swim lessons and other skills training
  3. Swimming for fitness
  4. Rehabilitation or therapy
  5. Sport training
  6. Diving
  7. Leadership training
  8. Competitions

“One of the key findings we can take away from the public engagement is that our residents want this new pool to be a place for the whole family, but especially for the kids,” said Copeland.

“One of the things we tracked in the survey results was the use of keywords, and the words that kept coming up over and over were things like ‘family-oriented’, ‘play features’, and ‘waterslides’.

“Over 85 percent of people identified waterslides as a feature they would like to see included. It’s going to be important to make sure that every age group is represented in the design and planning of this facility, but we especially want to make sure that we focus on our youngest residents.”

As for the amenities residents would like to see included in the facility, a warm water basin ranked highest, while dryland training space ranked lowest.

Top 5

  • Warm water pool (90%)
  • Leisure pool (88%)
  • Waterslide(s) (86%)
  • Shallow end or “beach entry” (86%)
  • Deep end (84%)

Bottom 5

  • 50m/25m lane pool (60%)
  • Climbing wall (54%)
  • Cold water pool (52%)
  • Deep tank (52%)
  • Dryland training space (50%)

Of 31 stakeholder groups that were invited to provide feedback on the proposed aquatics centre, 10 groups did, including Alberta Health Services, Cold Lake Seniors Society, the Lakeland Catholic and Francophone School Districts, 4 Wing Military Family Resource Centre, local sport groups and the Marlins Swim Club. Among the key findings, the stakeholder groups agree the facility:

  • Must be fully accessible for people in wheelchairs and those with physical disabilities.
  • Must be reliably operational with minimal downtime for maintenance and repairs.
  • Should have a viewing area for parents or spectators
  • Should be flexible to accommodate a variety of activities, user groups, and ages.

A key takeaway in the feedback was that the respondents had a desire to see the pool built as soon as reasonably possible of which this initiative should have been a priority for years.  This need was exacerbated by some common themes relating to the operational experiences of existing pools in the region.

The results from the public engagement campaign will be used to guide the concept design, which will be presented to Council later this year. More detailed information on the “Public and Stakeholder Engagement Summary” and the design development phase is available on the Capital Projects section of the City’s website at www.coldlake.com/projects.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.