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Yellowknife to hold referendum on whether it can borrow funds to pay for new pool

The City of Yellowknife is planning to hold a referendum in November on whether it can borrow “a small proportion” of the estimated $52.4 million to $63.7 million it will cost to build a new aquatic centre.

City expects to have to ‘borrow only a small proportion’ of the project’s $52-$63 million cost

The City of Yellowknife will be holding a referendum in November to see if it can borrow funds to build a new aquatic centre to replace the Ruth Inch Memorial Pool, pictured above, which the city said has exceeded its life expectancy. (Sara Minogue/CBC)

The City of Yellowknife is planning to hold a referendum in November on whether it can borrow "a small proportion" of the estimated $52.4 million to $63.7 million it will cost to build a new aquatic centre.

The city said in a news release it's been looking to replace the aging Ruth Inch Memorial Pool (RIMP) since November 2016. It said the facility has exceeded its life expectancy.

"RIMP is no longer sufficient," the city said in the news release. "It is currently operating at full capacity, and there are approximately 1,000 people on waiting lists for aquatic programs each year."

The city said that as the memorial pool continues to age, its maintenance requirements will result in more pool closures and longer waiting lists to get into programs.

Costs

On its website, the City of Yellowknife stated the new facility is scheduled to be built by September 2024. 

It estimates it will cost between $2.3 and $2.7 million annually to operate the new aquatic centre and that municipal taxes will increase by 2.7 per cent in 2024 to help offset the construction and maintenance costs. 

It also said it will receive funding for the project from the territorial and federal governments and that, as a result, it "will need to borrow only a small proportion of the funds needed to build" the aquatic centre. 

However, it added it can't provide an exact amount until one of the three submitted proposals to build the facility is accepted.

Consultation

The city said it conducted consultations with user groups and the public in 2018 and 2020 to hear what Yellowknifers would like to have in a new aquatic facility.

It said based on those discussions, the proposed facility will include, among other things, an eight-lane 25-metre lap pool, and one- and a three-metre springboard, a three-lane leisure pool, and a lazy river. It will have play features, a large amusement park-style water slide, a hot tub/therapy pool, a steam room and splash pads in addition to a canteen area and a spectator viewing area.

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