An executive from UBC Okanagan wore a suit and stood at the podium at the June 18 Lake Country district council meeting to express his diplomacy on behalf of the institution he represented. Officials at UBC Okanagan stated they are keen on building infrastructure on their plot of land sandwiched between the district and Kelowna.
“I just want a reminder (sic) how much we want to help you build a swimming pool,” Coun. Bill Scarrow joked in passing. “We want to help you.”
“We are working on it,” Mayor James Baker chimed in. “(There’s been) a lot of good talks with UBC Vancouver and the swimming pool that they just built. It won’t happen here but we’ll get something happening we hope.”
The UBCO executive said thank you and while following the trail back to his seat in the gallery, Coun. Scarrow had a question for him:
“Do you let Buddy talk? Or do you do all the talking?”
The executive, Rob Einarson, replied that Bud, his colleague, prepared the material while Einarson is the spokesperson.
And, as far as progress goes, that was the last of swimming pool talks between the two entities.
Coun. Scarrow said, “there are discussions with UBCO but certainly not a deal” that would bind UBCO and Lake Country into a pool-partnership.
But, the man who prepares the materials and who is also the director of university relations for UBC Okanagan, Bud Mortenson, said the reality of a swimming pool at UBCO is nothing much more than nothing.
“I think it will be safe to say that it is not something that is under discussion at the university,” Mortenson said. “You know, the idea has been floated just as a general thing to explore in the future but it’s not something that would be in a near-term horizon for the university.”
He went on to state that the most recent UBCO master campus plan was published in 2015 and did not include any preserved land for an aquatic centre; those plans can last at least 10 years and possibly even longer.
Coun. Scarrow said allocating resources to building a swimming pool is problematic when municipalities are already generally pressed for pennies.
To exemplify how much money it may cost to finance a project such as this, he threw out an equivocal number of $500 in addition to the tax payer’s annual bill to cover pool fees.
Out of 637 responses that were collected for the Discovery Research 2019 community survey, 55 per cent of them said a pool is the “biggest gap for a community service” in Lake Country. The next closest was a public activity centre at 19 per cent.
Coun. Penny Gambell has been advocating for a swimming pool for several years now. She said she has lobbied for a research project to study the feasibility of a pool twice, but council deferred.
Coun. Gambell said she understands how resource-intensive a project like building an aquatic centre can be, but if council begins the planning process now and start to allocate resources such as staff and money, it can be viable in the future.
Preparing the community for future costs is something Coun. Scarrow said he would be in favour of as well.
Reporter, Kelowna Capital News
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