N.B. mayor says ‘take the politics out of pool’ as closure of Fredericton pool nears

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As the closing date of the Sir Max Aitken pool in Fredericton grows closer, the concern of those advocating for a new pool rises.

Hanwell, N.B. Mayor Chris Melvin said it’s time to take the politics out of the pool and find a solution.

“Now is the real time for the entire region to come together and determine where exactly a pool needs to be done, [and] how exactly it’s going to be financed,” Melvin said.  “But the key to the entire project is that it has to be on a regional level.”

READ MORE: UNB Fredericton’s Sir Max Aitken Pool, Lady Beaverbrook Gym to close in 2018

Melvin said while he doesn’t think any municipality should be solely responsible for taking the lead, he said he thinks it’s something the Regional Service Commission could run with.

“I think, of course, there’s room in Hanwell for it, and I think a lot of municipalities probably think that there’s room in their individual municipalities, but for something like this I think it’s time to take the politics out of infrastructure like this and recreational facilities like this, so that’s why I think it would be key to bring the regional service commission in to facilitate a project like this,” Melvin said.

READ MORE: Fredericton swim club continues plea for new pool, highlights importance of programs

Melvin said everyone needs to “step up as a region” and come up with a solution.

“We need to take the politics out of infrastructure and facilities like that.  Because each municipality is going to fight to have it in their own backyard because it’s a great draw for development, it’s a great draw for growth of residents and things like that,” Melvin said.   “But that’s where the politics come in.”

He said he’d like to see an independent study done to see where the pool should go and how it should be financed.

READ MORE: New Brunswick mother concerned over UNB pool closure

Capital Region Aquatic Facility Team (FAST) co-chair Jennifer Andrews said she agrees with Melvin and hopes a solution is reached.

“I’d like to see people come together and take action and actually commit to the building of a temporary and permanent solution,” Andrews said.  “And obviously I would favour going right to a permanent solution.”

She said worst-case scenario a temporary pool shell could be build in an old arena or retail store temporarily, and said it could then be moved to a permanent facility.

“I think it’s exemplary and it shows the kind of leadership we need to put aside politics and actually think about living in a region where priorities are changing all the time and there’s a need to be flexible and to address the needs of individuals and communities,” Andrews said.

Andrews said it would be great if an independent study could be done, but said the main priority is to have a pool as soon as possible and said once there is financial collaboration, a location would then likely fall into place.

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