Yellowknife city staff offered a committee of council a look at the proposed new aquatic centre on Nov. 15 in anticipation of this month’s referendum on the project.

At a Governance and Priorities Committee meeting, members of city administration presented an update on the nearly $68-million project.

Director of community services Grant White presented the key features of the new facility: a splash pad; a 25-metre, eight-lane lap pool; and a lazy river: a jet-propelled waterway for patrons to float on. The facility will also include a canteen, lease space and a multipurpose room. The committee heard revenue from these spaces would be used to offset the cost of the new facility.

Chris Greencorn, Yellowknife’s director of Public Works and Engineering, presented the preliminary design for the facility. He said the city is looking into installing solar panels on the front of the facility facing Franklin Avenue and a deck will be installed on the side facing Frame Lake where events will be held.

About 4,500 people will be able to enroll at the new aquatic centre, if it’s built.

White said the facility will last at least 50 years, as long as the city conducts thorough maintenance.

“Much like the Ruth Inch Memorial Pool, we certainly expect it to meet, or exceed, its full life expectancy,” he said.

City manager Sheila Bassi-Kellett explained that the existing Ruth Inch Memorial Pool no longer meets the needs of the community.

“We know there are many components of our current pool that are inadequate,” she said. “We want to make sure we are as accessible and as inclusive as possible.”

The committee heard the project will cost $67.7 million in total. The vast majority of this expense — $57 million — will come from grants and reserves, while just over $10 million would need to be borrowed. Residents will vote on the bylaw for this loan on Nov. 23. Voters have until then to cast their votes, either by mail or in-person at city hall.

Should residents vote against the project, the city could return to the drawing board to reduce its scope. The municipality could also explore the possibility of upgrading the existing facility, although it would cost $21 million to upgrade the existing services and a further $41 million to expand the structure.

The city would also lose access to $12.9 million in federal funding which came with rules stipulating it must be spent before 2022 and only on a new building.

For homeowners, operation and maintenance costs for the facility will amount to a 1.27 per cent annual property tax increase over and above any other tax increase; about $4 a month more, for a property valued at $650,000.

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