UBC Okanagan, Lake Country joint community pool not a reality

Lake Country residents want a community pool, survey shows

UBC Okanagan is keen on building infrastructure at its campus sandwiched between the District of Lake Country and Kelowna, according to university representatives attending Lake Country council last week.

“I just want a reminder (sic) how much we want to help you build a swimming pool,” Coun. Bill Scarrow joked in passing. “We want to help you.”

“We are working on it,” Mayor James Baker chimed in. “(There’s been) a lot of good talks with UBC Vancouver and the swimming pool that they just built. It won’t happen here, but we’ll get something happening we hope.”

Rob Einarson, associate vice-president of finance and operations at UBCO, thanked council, but Scarrow had another question for him as he returned to his seat.

“Do you let Buddy talk? Or do you do all the talking?” joked Scarrow, referring to his friend Bud Mortenson, a long-time editor of the Lake Country Calendar and now director of university relations at UBCO, who was also attending.

Einarson replied that his colleague, Mortenson, prepared the material while he was the spokesperson.

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And, as far as progress goes, that was the last of swimming pool talks between the two entities.

Coun. Scarrow said, “there are discussions with UBC-O but certainly not a deal” that would bind UBC-O and Lake Country into a pool-partnership.

Mortenson said the reality of a swimming pool at UBCO is not a likelihood.

“I think it will be safe to say that it is not something that is under discussion at the university,” Mortenson said. “You know, the idea has been floated just as a general thing to explore in the future but it’s not something that would be in a near-term horizon for the university.”

He said the most recent UBCO master campus plan was published in 2015 and did not include any reserved land for an aquatic centre. Those plans can last at least 10 years and possibly even longer.

Scarrow said allocating resources to building a swimming pool is problematic when municipalities are already generally pressed for pennies.

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To exemplify how much money it may cost to finance a project such as this, he threw out an equivocal number of $500 in addition to the taxpayer’s annual bill to cover pool fees.

Out of 637 responses that were collected for the Discovery Research 2019 community survey, 55 per cent of them said a pool was the biggest gap in Lake Country’s community services. The next closest was a public activity centre at 19 per cent.

Coun. Penny Gambell has been advocating for a swimming pool for several years now. She said she has lobbied for a research project to study the feasibility of a pool twice, but council deferred.

Gambell said she understands how resource-intensive a project like building an aquatic centre can be, but if council begins the planning process now and start to allocate resources such as staff and money, it can be viable in the future.

Preparing the community for future costs is something Coun. Scarrow said he would be in favour of as well.



David Venn
Reporter, Kelowna Capital News
Email me at david.venn@kelownacapnews.com
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