Petition calls for swimming pool in Hart

A petition circulating in the Hart Highlands calls on the city to use the money earmarked to replace the Four Seasons Leisure Pool to build a swimming pool in the Hart area.

In a referendum on Oct. 28, 2017, voters authorized the city to borrow $35 million to replace the aging downtown pool. Residents voted 62.48 per cent in favour (4,923 votes in favour and 2,956 against) of borrowing the money.

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"If the estimated $10 million was spent on the Four Seasons for roof repair and (wheelchair) access, it would serve that area for many years to come," the text of the petition says. "Then there would be left $25 million which would be sufficient to (build) a pool (in) the Hart area, where the city has land available."

Hart resident Svend Serup, with the help of his son Paul, organized the petition, which he said has been distributed to 22 businesses throughout the Hart.

"It's been talked about having a swimming pool in the Hart for years and year," Serup said. "And the money that has been approved (in the referendum) is not tied to the downtown, expensive pool that has been suggested. It can be used in other ways."

The wording of the referendum question may leave city council the option to build a pool in the Hart, rather than downtown.

Voters were asked, "Are you in favour of the City of Prince George adopting the 'Four Seasons Leisure Pool Replacement Loan Authorization Bylaw No. 8888, 2017' which will authorize Council to borrow a sum not exceeding thirty five million dollars ($35,000,000), repayable over a period of no more than twenty (20) years, for the development and construction of a new pool building to replace the Four Seasons Leisure Pool?"

There are many families living in the Hart, Serup said, and it is difficult for them to access the city's two pools, which are both in the bowl area. In addition, he said, the low voter turnout (approximately 14 per cent of eligible voters) doesn't constitute a strong mandate for the city to go ahead.

Serup said he's had a strong opinion on the issue for some time, and finally decided to take action.

"In the Bible is says to be a doer, not a hearer only," he said. "I've been thinking about 'what can I do?"

He said doesn't have a target number of signatures in mind, but plans to keep the petition going for approximately a week before tallying up the signatures and dropping off the forms to city hall.

The city's current plan is to purchase the Day Inn at 600 Quebec St. for $4.5 million, demolish the hotel building, and build a new pool facility on the location. The proposed new pool would include a therapy-toddler pool, a leisure pool with a wading zone, play features and a slide.

The cost of demolishing the hotel and current pool would not be covered by the $35 million loan, and would be paid for using other city funds.

According to the city, the existing Four Seasons pool no longer meets safety standards and would have needed $10.3 million worth of updates just to meet immediate needs.

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