West Kelowna council gets update on Johnson Bentley centre

With competition like the H20 Centre and Parkinson Recreation Centre east of the bridge, Johnson Bentley Memorial Aquatic Centre (JBMAC) is doing what it can to keep West Kelowna residents swimming in its waters.

Bob Stedham is a consultant with Active Living Enterprises: The company that has operated JBMAC since 1997. He spoke to West Kelowna council on Tuesday to share some of JBMAC’s successes and challenges.

He explained that JBMAC gets over 125,000 visitors every year, teaches thousands of swimming lessons and hosts the Liquid Lightning Swim Club: One of the most successful competitive swimming programs in the Interior.

He added that events like toonie public swims, day camps, special events and children’s programs have been successful in bringing community members to the facility.

Since 1997, when Active Living Enterprises began operating JBMAC, over 2 million people have used the facility. The centre has also employed over 400 locals in the past 10 years.

But according to Stedham, there are also several challenges that JBMAC faces.

He told council members that JBMAC is an aging facility in need of an upgrade.

“We like to look at it as the little train that could. It’s a small facility, it’s not well updated at this point,” said Stedham.

He explained that with six new shopping centres and several fitness facilities on the Westside, JBMAC no longer has a monopoly on leisure activities.

“You know the competition that’s out there for us right now; it’s amazing that we get what we get out of it on a daily basis.

“On any given Saturday or Sunday, when families have choices where to go, it used to be the pool in the old days. Now they can go a lot of places.”

But Stedham said he is optimistic that JBMAC’s future can be bright.

He explained to council that the aquatic centre is focusing on utilizing social media marketing, working in cooperation with DWK staff to address major physical plant capital needs and becoming known as an education centre for pool operator, advanced fitness, lifeguarding and water safety instructor courses.

Coun. Rick de Jong was quick commend Stedham on the condition of the aquatic centre.

“As someone whose family has used the Johnson Bentley pool over the years, I compliment you on a job well done. The pool is a true jewel for this community,” said de Jong.

Mayor Doug Findlater said that he feels the majority of the community is satisfied with JBMAC.

“People are generally pretty pleased with the facility, certainly the program,” said Findlater.

“People do see needs to improve the actual physical structure—we’re aware of that and we’re looking at that.”

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