New Brunswick

UNB floats plan to extend pool's life if city commits to new facility

The University of New Brunswick would be willing to extend the life of the Sir Max Aitken Pool at it’s Fredericton campus if it can get some sort of commitment from the city on a new pool in the future.

George MacLean says UNB is proposing a new aquatics facility where the university and city would share costs

The Sir Max Aitken Pool in the Lady Beaverbrook Gymnasium had been scheduled to close in the fall of 2018. (Submitted by the Fredericton Diving Club)

The University of New Brunswick would be willing to extend the life of the Sir Max Aitken Pool at its Fredericton campus if it can get a commitment from the city on a new aquatics facility. 

The university had planned to close the Sir Max Aitken Pool at the Lady Beaverbrook Gymnasium and demolish the building in the fall of 2018.

But George MacLeanUNB's vice-president academic, said the university could keep the pool open another year if Fredericton was willing to be part of a deal for a new pool. 

"If we had the Sir Max Aitken Pool open for a period of time that would show I think an extension of good will on our part and on the city's part to work together to try to achieve a feasible business plan and funding plan that was acceptable to both parties," said MacLean. 

"Our feeling is we would commit to keeping it open for a year, which would allow us to give some certainty to our aquatics programs."

Fredericton's aquatic community marched on city hall in September asking for a new pool to replace the Sir Max Aitken facility.

The Sir Max Aitken Pool is home to many groups, such as diving, competitive swimming and synchronized swimming. 

If the Sir Max Aitken Pool did close in the fall of 2018, that could sink some of those groups.

Chris Ramsey, a spokesperson for the Fredericton Aquanauts Swim Team, said if the university shutters the pool then there will be no place for his daughter and the other athletes on her team to train.

"If that doesn't stay open longer then there's really no place for all these user groups to go. The kids groups are going to shut down, the seniors are going to have no place to swim," said Ramsey.

"So I think if they can come to an arrangement that sees that Sir Max Aitken Pool being extended by a year I think that's fantastic."

Conversations continue

MacLean said there have been multiple conversations between the university and city staff since October.

He said city staff made a presentation at a closed session of city council, where staff outlined UNB's proposal for a new aquatics facility and what the university would be prepared to do.

George MacLean vice president of academic said the university would be willing to extend the life of the Sir Max Aitken Pool. (CBC)
MacLean said the university's proposal would see shared costs on long term operations and the building of the facility. The university would want the pool to stay on campus. 

"We haven't worked out what those share costs would look like but we do agree that that's the best way to go about it. Neither of us would be able to afford the pool on our own," said MacLean. 

MacLean will hear back from city staff at the beginning of January on how that presentation to council went, and if this is something that can be worked out. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Philip Drost is a reporter with the CBC.

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