After years of hang-ups, delays and questions of whether or not it could be done, construction has officially begun on the new Flin Flon Aqua Centre.
A celebratory barbecue and a ceremonial sod turning kicked off the project in earnest Oct. 21. Work had already begun on the site several days before and won't be done until at least next year, but those behind the project took the chance to celebrate it getting underway.
Elder Margaret Head-Steppan offered a blessing of tobacco for the site and James Fiddler opened the ceremony with a prayer, speaking about the importance of teaching future generations to respect the water.
“We try to teach the young people about the sacred parts of water, the land, friendship and gratitude. With gratitude, everything forms - good friends, good attitude, and a good attitude forms everything,” he said.
Efforts to replace the pool in earnest began in 2010, starting largely with the Aqua Centre Community Committee and pushed by former city councillors Colleen McKee and Karen MacKinnon. Over the years came a push for both government funding and community donations, one that intensified after the previous Aqua Centre was closed and later demolished in 2020. Committee members and local officials alike each grabbed shovels for a ceremony during the kick-off, plunging them into a line of dirt laid out on the sidewalk near the future pool site.
“Thank you to our mayor, council and administration for standing up for this project, for both seeing and understanding the insurmountable lifelong benefits that recreation, sport and leisure create in a community. They build strong families, improve mental and physical health, the reduction in chronic disease, decrease drowning and preventable water accidents, I could go on and on,” said City of Flin Flon recreation director Caitlin Bailey.
“They've been working tirelessly for years on this project and we're so happy to have all of them involved. We would not be where we are today on this project without them."
Plans for the pool have changed over time, at first calling for a facility to be built at the former Willowvale Curling Club site, then being moved down to the pool’s former site at Ash Crescent, near the City’s water treatment plant, the Aspen Grove apartment complex and Ross Creek. The price has gone up from initial estimates, at last check estimated to cost about $14.6 million, up from an initial forecast cost of about $9 million, and the exact scope of the project has changed over time. The project has already received millions in grants from the federal and provincial governments and more grant money will be sought in the future.
Regardless, construction is now underway. Mayor George Fontaine thanked the committee and both the current and previous city councils.
“This is a great pleasure for me. I think this is the second most important day for this pool - the most important one will be the day we open the darn thing,” he said.
“It’s a great celebration, to say ‘there’s no turning back now, folks.’ It’s a happy day.”