Recreation director says 93 per cent of survey respondents support new athletic centre
Iqaluit revives pool proposal
If at first city ratepayers vote no, then try again.
The city of Iqaluit is resurrecting a proposal to build a multipurpose recreation centre and this time they're asking Iqalummiut what they think of the idea before they put it to a vote.
At the city's annual mass recreation sign-up this past weekend, young volunteers handed out surveys to gauge support for a centre that could include a pool, indoor field, track, rink and fitness centre.
Mike Courtney, the city's recreation director, said he's handed out the surveys since the Nunavut trade show back in May. Of the 154 he's gotten back, he said 93 per cent support the recreation centre.
But it's an open question whether city ratepayers will support the idea. A ballot question in last October's municipal election asked if taxpayers would support the city borrowing $12 million to pay for a recreation centre, and was defeated by just 17 votes.
A proposal seeking permission to borrow $6 million to build a new city hall, which staff and councillors say is badly needed, was defeated by a much larger margin.
Courtney said the city didn't do a good enough job selling ratepayers on the recreation centre proposal during the campaign.
"There was no information given to the ratepayers with regards to what type of structure, what the outcome for the community was," he said.
Deputy mayor Al Hayward, who was critical of the city's approach to the 2006 ballot question, said recreation staff are right to ask the public what it wants in a recreation centre before it asks ratepayers to foot the bill.
"Everybody knows" the city needs a new pool and recreation centre, Hayward said, adding the city must first secure federal or territorial funding before it asks ratepayers for permission to borrow the rest.
"What has to happen before these steps are taken is an education campaign and public opinion gathered before it gets bundled into a municipal election."
The city's lease for the Astro Hill pool costs around $180,000 per year. But the aging pool is now too small for the city's needs and suffers from regular technical problems. The lease is set to expire in 2010, and Courtney said a clause in the contract says there can be no extensions.
In the meantime, Courtney said the pool is closed until Oct. 1 to be drained, cleaned and have a pump replaced. The city's skate park is also closed for the season, so ice can be reinstalled in the curling rink. Courtney said parts of the skate park will end up in the Arctic Winter Games arena soon, for use during the winter.