New Brunswick

Sir Max Aitken Pool deal came just in time, and it only goes so far

A new three-way partnership to extend the life of the Sir Max Aitken Pool came right in the nick of time, the University of New Brunswick's vice-president of academic says.

UNB hopes partnership with government will lead to more permanent pool solution

Now that the Sir Max Aitken Pool is safe for another three years, the university hopes to come up with a game plan for a permanent, improved pool for the community. (Submitted by the Fredericton Diving Club)

A new three-way partnership to extend the life of the Sir Max Aitken Pool at UNB was reached in the nick of time, the University of New Brunswick's vice-president of academic says.

"We were at a point where we were really needing to move forward with the closure of the building, notifying the community as well as our own users," George MacLean said in an interview with Information Morning Fredericton.

"It really came down to a matter of days and so the timing worked out very well."   

The pool and the Lady Beaverbrook Gym on UNB's Fredericton campus will be kept open for at least three years after the university board of governors voted Tuesday to accept a funding agreement with the City of Fredericton and the provincial government.

The partnership was formed after pressure from the aquatics and medical communities increased, and the province stepped in and offered $260,000 a year to keep the pool going. 

After that, the city also jumped in, agreeing to provide $140,000 annually.  

A quick fix

But will they be able to help out down the road?

Although there hasn't been talk of keeping the pool open longer than three years, MacLean hopes this new agreement will stimulate conversations about a more permanent pool for competitive swimmers and others.  

"We didn't want to just continue an aging facility, keep it open, maintain from year to year," he said.

UNB hopes a game plan will be worked out soon for a new and improved pool.

"So we'll be able to report back to the community and say, 'This is what the longer-term plan looks like, where a facility might be, who's engaged, who the partners will be.'"  

The university would like to see a new pool on the other side of the Richard J. Currie Center on campus, but it's also open to having a pool built in another part of the city, MacLean said.

No guarantees

But first, the university will be sitting down with the city and the province to work through short-term details, such as liability and user fees for the next three years.

"We're looking at keeping the pool open as it is right now with the current users and the current terms," MacLean said.

"We're anticipating the funding will be able to get us to that arrangement for that period of time."

The building has already lasted longer than its expected lifespan.

The university has done a number of reports on the Lady Beaverbrook Gym and the pool it houses, each noting some concerns about major systems in the building. Nonetheless, the university said the pool will likely be useable for the length of the new partnership. 

"We would not have moved forward with an offer to maintain the building for up to three years if we didn't feel that we'd be able to do that," he said.