Ensuring Yellowknife’s next pool is able to appeal to children and families for decades to come was the focus of discussion at Monday’s regular meeting as council approved a 25-metre, eight-lane pool design for the proposed aquatic centre.

A concept drawing of a large pool slide from the City of Yellowknife’s Concept Design Report, November 2020.

Council also supported the addition of a large amusement park waterslide to be included.

With that major hurdle now cleared, documents need to be drafted and a design-build request for proposals is expected to be issued in May. A design builder is scheduled to be selected in August before residents are asked in a public referendum to borrow approximately $7 million for the estimated $57-million project.

Councillors felt strongly that residents want a large water slide to attract families and children, even though city staff recommended against it.

Coun. Robin Williams said that not including a significant sized slide may lead to residents voting against the project. He also said it could have benefits in the future that may include attracting tourism dollars into city facilities and enhancing family leisure opportunities.

“For some of us, a pool is a place to have fun and spend time with our families and to get away for a little bit,” he said. “We have heard a lot from the athleticism side of things and we heard lots about the user groups. I think that this one piece (the slide) is really what the families want and what regular, off-the-street users of the pool are looking for. This project needs to be right for everyone.

Other councillors shared Williams’ sentiment.

City Coun. Robin Williams says a large water slide is “what the families want and what regular, off-the-street users of the pool are looking for.”
NNSL file photo

“I wasn’t sure about the capital and (operations and maintenance) costs because they were a little bit scary when we talked about this a few weeks ago,” Coun. Steve Payne said. “But in the last couple of weeks, I’ve talked to a lot of people and it’s clear that the public really wants a waterslide.”

A larger amusement park style slide is estimated to add $1.5 million to the project.

Additional costs for having a slide are up to two people staffing it, the cost of replacing water pumps roughly every five to 10 years and other minor ongoing operations and maintenance costs, council heard.

Last attempt at 52-metre pool

Coun. Niels Konge failed to get his fellow councillors to agree to opt for the larger 52-metre, eight-lane pool option, instead of the 25-metre.

He said he was not satisfied with the amount of consultation with user groups, particularly the Polar Bear Swim Club, and feared that within a few years of its operation, the 25-metre pool will not meet the city’s full demand.

“I really think that a 25-metre pool is going to go to capacity within the first five years, and we are building a facility that’s supposed to last for 30, or more,” he said. “The only reason we’re considering a 25-metre pool is because we don’t think the public will accept the cost and we just spent a million-and-a-half dollars more for a slide. So we talk about disservice to the community, but building a pool that is not big enough right now would be a disservice to the community.”

Other councillors remained opposed, raising concerns about the larger option’s $67-million price tag, as well as uncertainty around additional staff and energy costs.

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

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