Last week Council announced that we are going to replace the pool in Blairmore and released the new design.
Historically the last time a new facility was built in the Crowsnest Pass? late 1970"s, the pool itself was built in the early seventies and initially had a life expectancy of 25-30 years.
Why replace now? We had a company come in (2014) and do a review of the deficiencies at the pool http://www.crowsnestpass.com/public/download/documents/9424 it is in bad shape it's 45 years old.
At the same time we put together a ten year capital plan which really shows the challenge financially of maintaining our municipality moving forward. http://www.crowsnestpass.com/public/download/documents/12889
Within that plan Council felt it was not just important to plan for infrastructure needs, but it was also critical to replace the swimming pool and protect our other key facilities. (Coleman Complex, and the MDM). You can see from the plan that there is not a lot of spare money to throw around can we squeeze out a few million dollars for our facilities? yes. $20-30 million? show me where.
Which leads me to the choice of an outdoor pool, I have heard comments from a loud vocal minority over the last week. "Put a roof on it, We can only use it for three months of the year, I can't believe that's all we are getting for $1.5million, I don't mind paying a few extra dollars in taxes a year, find grants, why do our neighbors have an indoor pool" and it goes on.
Let's talk about these issues, yes all our neighbors have indoor pools. I wonder if that would be the case if Sparwood, Elkford, Fernie did not all participate in the Elk Valley Tax Sharing agreement?
Yes these communities share $9 million a year in property taxes from Teck we will collect $7 million total in property taxes this year and 90% of that comes from residents only 10% from commercial. Pincher Creek talk to anybody that's involved with the town the pool is a large burden on them, and they receive $200,000 a year from the MD of Pincher to offset their costs.
Can't believe the cost $1.5 million, in this day and age of liability, you can't just throw up a building that's going to be used by the public, you have to have design's done by architects, stamped by engineers with everything built to code. So I went to see what other communities are doing surprisingly it's not hard to find towns in Alberta that have built outdoor pools in the last few years.
A few examples and please take a look at the costs and what they are getting:
Spirit River (North of Grande Prairie) http://www.dailyheraldtribune.com/2013/08/08/new-spirit-river-pool-officially-opens
Mayerthorpe (North west of Edmonton) http://www.mayerthorpefreelancer.com/2013/06/06/mayerthorpe-swimming-pool-opens
Rimby (West of Ponoka) http://issuu.com/blackpress/docs/i20120713105540549
Blackfalds (North of Red Deer) http://masonmartinhomes.com/blog/2012/07/good-news-for-current-and-future-residents-of-blackfalds/
Then I found a community that is building an Indoor facilities:
Barrhead, below is the borrowing bylaw $13 million dollars just to build an indoor pool with a few extra's, not a full blown indoor facility. They are very fortunate, they are only paying 40% of the cost the county surrounding them is also paying 40% in addition they are fund raising $1.5 million and taking $1.5 million of their grant money. http://www.barrhead.ca/sites/default/files/2015-05-Barrhead%20Regional%20Aquatic%20Centre%20Debenture%20Borrowing.pdf
Now let's look how we would compare to that situation, do I think any of our neighbors will throw in $5 million? MD of Pincher Creek is already contributing to the Town of Pincher Creek facility.
$1.5 million in fund raising can you imagine the task that would be to raise that much money in the Crowsnest Pass with no major corporations?
Then the grants yes all communities get MSI and Gas tax grants, you can look at the Capital plan above we show those dollars every year, if you spend them on a pool you will take those dollars away from some where else, what should we drop. Other grants? we apply for every one just as thousands of other communities do.
So what is this costing the residents of Barrhead?, their taxes on a home worth $100,000 $59 per year on a home worth $300,000 $177 per year(See link below). But keep in mind that's just on $5 million if they had to finance the full $13 million like we would. Those numbers change to $153 on a $100,000 home and $460 on a $300,000 home, that's every year for 25 years.
We have not even spoke about operating costs, our pool costs us about $120,000 a year to operate. Our neighbors anywhere from $600,000 to $800,000, lets be optimistic and say we can do it better than anybody else and come in at $500,000. That's $380,000 more than we are spending today, to pay for that we would have to increase our taxes 5% so that $100,000 home would pay an extra $50 a year the $300,000 home $150 per year. For the guy that told me he would gladly pay an extra $100 a year for an indoor facility, if that was only the case.
Bottom line in my opinion I believe that council as made a good choice, to replace an aging facility that's way past it's end date. With a facility that we can afford both now and moving forward.