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City sets out latest timeline for work on new pool

A detail from concept drawings of a potential new aquatic centre for Yellowknife
A detail from concept drawings of a potential new aquatic centre for Yellowknife.

The City of Yellowknife says construction of a new aquatic centre, if given the green light, should now be finished by the winter of 2023.

A referendum on whether to go ahead with the pool – which must happen by law for the city to borrow the money needed to pay for it – is due to take place in October 2021.

Sheila Bassi-Kellett, Yellowknife’s senior administrator, told councillors on Monday designs existed for both a 25-metre and 50-metre pool.

A 50-metre pool was earlier estimated to cost around $50 million to build. A pool half the size was said to be around $8 million cheaper. Operating costs could reach $3 million annually.



Bassi-Kellett said studies were now assessing the potential of two locations within the city for the centre.

“This will soon be coming back into the public eye as we seek to gauge input from residents on what some of the proposed steps going forward could be looking like,” she said.

Grant White, the city’s director of community services, said a four-day public consultation process on the latest plans is scheduled to begin on September 21 this year.

Given the Covid-19 pandemic and public health restrictions, the city hopes to use the Multiplex to host that consultation but is exploring other options, including an online component.



Postcards will be mailed to all residents “to ensure that the community is well aware of the various options available to provide input into the project,” said White.

White said there will be options for “specific input” from the likes of the Polar Bear Swim Club, the Yellowknife Seniors Society, and the Somba K’e Paddling Club.

In November, an important month for the project, a design plan will be brought to council. At that point, councillors can vote to continue on or bring the project to a halt.

“If council approves the plan, the project will continue to the next step. If not, work will cease,” said White.

The city is working to extend its deadline to spend $12.9 million in federal grant money for the pool following delays related to Covid-19.

That money originally had to be spent by March 2023, but the city has drafted an amendment to that agreement extending the deadline to the end of 2024.

The city says that request “was met with a favourable response” but still needs to be formalized in writing.

Yellowknife has been pursuing a new pool for several years. The existing Ruth Inch Memorial Pool is said to be reaching the end of its useful lifespan.