Princeton, B.C. seeking financing for proposed $27M pool and wellness centre

The town of Princeton, B.C. is proposing a multi-million dollar pool and health centre, though residents voted against a similar plan during a 2011 referendum.

Residents voted against a $9M aquatic centre in 2011, but mayor says 'times have changed'

The town is proposing a $27M facility that would include a pool, viewing deck, gym, walking track and meeting rooms. (Town of Princeton)

The B.C. Interior town of Princeton is hoping to build a $27 million health, wellness and aquatic centre, six years after voting down a $9 million aquatic centre. 

In a presentation to residents on Nov. 8, the town said its existing outdoor pool is no longer sufficient and the number one priority is "to develop a regionally significant public facility to further the revitalization of Princeton."

"It would be like a community centre. It includes a five lane, 25 metre swimming pool, it has meeting rooms, there will be exercising, there would be an indoor walking track," said Mayor Frank Armitage.

"The seniors in our community ... have really been wanting something like this."

'Times have changed'

In a local referendum in 2011, residents narrowly voted against contributing tax dollars to a proposal for a similar facility. But, Armitage says "times have changed" since then. 

He said six years ago, there were no infrastructure grants the community could apply for to offset the cost. 

As part of this current proposal, the community is asking the provincial and federal governments to each contribute $11 million. That would leave $5 million to be passed on to the municipality and its taxpayers, or between $50 and $100 per household per year.

The town is seeking $11M each from the provincial and federal governments to help cover the majority of the costs for the $27M facility. (Town of Princeton)

"We don't ask for this everyday, but it's a way we could acquire a very integral part of infrastructure for our community," said Armitage.

Will only proceed with sufficient financing

Resident Gordon Comeau said the plan may be too ambitious for the small town.

"Do we need everything that's in there? If you're going to put in a gym facility when we have two gyms in town, are we actually competing with other businesses?" said Comeau.

Armitage said while the proposal was well-received at the recent Union of B.C. Municipalities meetings in September, but adds it will only proceed once financing details are worked out. 

"I am not going to put my old hometown community of Princeton under any financial hardship," said Armitage.

With files from CBC's Daybreak South