Halifax missed an opportunity to make an even bigger splash when it announced a new $40.5-million sports facility for the Mainland Common, says a lobby group.
Susan Kirkland, spokeswoman for Build It Right, said Wednesday it's disappointing there won't be a 50-metre pool at the Mainland Common recreation centre in Clayton Park as announced.
"You can't really hold large national or international meets in a 25-metre pool, and there are certain criteria you have to have that will not be met in this facility, at least at the highest level," Kirkland said. "Certainly it will be able to be used competitively at regional levels."
The plan for the centre, unveiled by Mayor Peter Kelly and Peter MacKay, federal minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, will feature two 25-metre pools, a 200-metre indoor track and a gymnasium. There will be also be a community area for classes and meetings.
The federal and provincial governments are contributing $12 million each, while the Halifax Regional Municipality is covering the other $16.5 million.
Kelly said most of the money has been set aside, though the municipality will raise $2 million through a fundraising campaign.
Kirkland and the other members of Build It Right wanted a 50-metre Olympic-sized pool.
Instead, the city decided to put in the two smaller pools, and spend $3 million to refurbish the 50-metre Centennial Pool in downtown Halifax.
But Kirkland said renovating 40-year-old Centennial Pool won't be good enough.
"There's a lot of specification for national and international meets that simply can't be met in that facility," she said.
Kelly said the decision was based on a report that found the city did not have the population to sustain a third 50-metre pool. There is also a 50-metre pool at Dalplex on the Dalhousie University campus.
And, the mayor said, there's still space on the Mainland Common site to build a 50-metre pool down the road.
"When we have the resources, and when the need is there, we will have the opportunity to put that in place. But for now this facility — $40.5 million — is a phenomenal structure," Kelly said.
The centre is scheduled to be completed by winter 2010, a year before Halifax hosts the Canada Winter Games.