An upcoming project is about to make a big splash in the Agassiz recreation scene.
On Monday, April 11, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Joyce Murray announced funding for 57 infrastructure projects across the province, including $454,000 in federal funding for the District of Kent Aquatic Centre.
This indoor, year-round aquatic facility would feature a six-lane pool, leisure and whirl pools, sauna and other amenities. It would replace the outdoor, seasonal Ferny Coombe Pool.
With an additional $9.5 million coming from the province and $3.6 million from municipal, First Nations and other funding sources, there is a total of about $13.5 million to be dedicated to the project.
“I want to thank the staff and Council for their work towards making this happen,” stated District of Kent Mayor Sylvia Pranger. “Each of our senior staff members has been active on this as well as Council and previous Council. This has been a project in the making for several years and I couldn’t be more thrilled to share this with the community.”
A total of $110 million is being invested in communities across B.C. for green, recreation and infrastructure projects.
“Accessible spaces that allow community members to gather, learn and express their creativity help reduce social isolation and promote inclusivity,” Murray said. “Our government is happy that British Columbia is partnering with us to invest in social and green infrastructure projects that will make a meaningful difference in the lives of thousands of British Columbians.”
This investment also includes 13 Indigenous-led projects across the province.
Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon MP Brad Vis is “over-the-top happy” to see the aquatic centre take a major step forward, elated at the potential positive impact this will have on the Agassiz-Harrison community. He told The Observer he has been working on this since he was first elected.
“All four levels of government collaborated together to get this done,” Vis said. “It will have a lasting impact for generations to come. Everyone is so excited about it, and it’s such a game-changer for the community. It’s not every day you get a project like this approved. Tax dollars well spent.”
As the picture of the aquatic centre becomes more tangible, it should be noted this is an effort at least 10 years in the making. Back in 2019, District officials promised to put aside $4 million to pay for an indoor aquatic facility; back then, they estimated the new centre would open in 2025. Director of community services Jennifer Thornton said back then that anytime recreation surveys went out into the community, an indoor aquatic centre was high on the list of priorities.
The plans described in this week’s announcement largely mirror that which was envisioned back in 2019. If the vision hasn’t changed, the aquatic centre would be built on the south side of the Community Recreation and Cultural Centre on Pioneer Avenue. A 2019 estimate indicated the aquatic centre may cost around $15 million to complete with an operating budget of about $600,000.
– With files from Grace Kennedy