The Parkland County Council has approved up to $9.3 million for the Entwistle Pool and Community Hub.
For some residents it could feel like a long time coming, but Parkland County officially approved funding to rebuild the Entwistle Pool and Community Hub.
Beginning with the Recreation, Parks and Open Spaces Master Plan back in 2009, this started a process which led to identifying a need for a new pool to replace the one which has been in operation for over 50 years.
This nine year long process came to fruition on Monday during Parkland County Council which was relocated to the Entwistle Community Hall to fit the number of residents in attendance. It was here that people from across the region came up to speak to council to voice their support and great desire for a new public pool saying without it they would face an estimated 45 minute drive just to get to a pool area. Residents also spoke to the importance of having the pool for the use of teaching their kids how to swim and using it as a recreational tool for kids not enrolled in dance or hockey.
Councillors listened to everyone's complaints and worries about the possibility of the pool being shut down, but when it came time to vote for the project, the county ultimately approved up to $9.3 million dollars to fund the project by a vote of 5-2 with Councillors Phyllis Kobasiuk and Ann-Lisa Jensen standing opposed. The funds are coming from a variety of areas such as the Recreation Facilities Restricted Surplus, the Hamlet Sustainability Restricted Surplus and the Entwistle Community Development Fund among other areas.
Council also took time to look at the operating cost which would increase exponentially with the new facility and would impact the taxpayer with an increase of 1.28 percent.
Mayor Rod Shaigec also explained that council is looking at cost-sharing agreements with Yellowhead County, whose residents are expected to benefit from the facility. He adds, "historically our cost sharing agreements with Yellowhead County are 50 percent, so 50 percent of the capital costs and the operating costs would be carried by Parkland County and the other 50 percent by Yellowhead". Shaigec also added they are looking towards sponsorship to also help carry some of the load in funding for the pool area.
Mayor Shaigec also spoke to the importance of building this facility for Entwistle residents saying it will create "complete communities" which mean providing amenities which elevate the quality of life in the area.
The facility is expected to attract more business to the area as Shaigec further explained saying, "When council makes expenditures like this it also elevates our opportunities to attract other businesses, so when businesses are looking to relocate, one of the things they look at is, 'what are the amenities?' and 'what sort of recreational facilities do they have for their employees families?'".
Speaking more to the community hub attached to the pool, Mayor Shaigec says it is a significant element on the Hamlet Development Plan which the county also discussed at their meeting. He further explained that Parkland County identified Entwistle as one of the hamlets in their plan that needed changes to ensure it is viable and sustainable going into the future.
The process moving forward according to Shaigec is gaining the engagement from the public. He adds, "We will be looking at what are the features and amenities they want in that facility", further explaining, "there will be an opportunity for Parkland County residents to voice their support or non-support that debenture and for this to take place".
The first reading of the bylaw is scheduled for May 22nd and will face third reading by June 26th.
If everything is approved and goes through the necessary stages, Parkland County is looking at having an anticipated opening in May 2020.