The Flin Flon Aqua Centre replacement project is still on the table - even if local council members haven’t heard anything back recently from either federal or provincial governments on possible grants.
During their Sept. 1 meeting, city council received a letter from Joy Tetlock, formerly the head of the Aqua Centre Fundraising Committee, announcing she had tendered her resignation to the committee and the City.
“I had hoped that we would have seen much more progress by this time but unfortunately the world is a much different place than we expected these days,” reads Tetlock’s letter.
“I have found these changes have significantly impacted on both my professional and personal life and I am feeling I need to relinquish some responsibilities to lighten my load.”
After reading the letter, Flin Flon Mayor Cal Huntley praised Tetlock for her service on the committee.
“Between her personal and work life, it’s time for her to take a break. We thank her immensely for the work that she’s done and we’re very hopeful that we are on the cusp of being able to bring some good news,” Huntley said.
When asked about the state of the replacement of the Aqua Centre, Huntley said the grant necessary for the project was being delayed, likely due to COVID-19.
“It’s still being held up down south right now. We’re keeping our fingers crossed. We believe we put in a good proposal and I think we have a real good chance. We certainly believe it’s our turn as well,” he said.
Huntley said he had only heard anecdotal information on the grant’s progress, not receiving details from official channels and had not received information about whether the necessary funding would be on its way soon or not.
“We’ll get a more formal response as we move forward with AMM [the Association of Manitoba Municipalities] and that sort of thing, I believe, given that’s been going on during COVID-19. For us, we want a pool whether there’s COVID-19 or not so we’re pushing hard, but I believe it’s taken a back burner maybe at the provincial level. Who knows? The feds are pretty busy too,” he said.
“We do know that no decisions have been made and nothing has been awarded from a provincial perspective, it would be fair to say.”
Councillor Karen MacKinnon added, “When I asked, I was told that it hadn’t been sent in provincially yet.”
In Tetlock’s resignation letter, she called for a formal agreement or partnership between local government in Flin Flon, Creighton and Denare Beach to coordinate the pool’s construction.
“I do truly believe without the three communities, Flin Flon, Creighton and Denare Beach, having a formal partnership agreement in place, the fundraising group will continue to come up against the same barriers,” reads the letter.
When asked if the City and other communities had struck agreements about the centre, Huntley said no such partnership had been reached with the new project.
“We have a proposal for a pool right now within the existing structure [of the grant]. Our portion of the funding is available right now. Will we talk to our neighbouring communities? We do that on an ongoing basis. We’ll continue to do so and hopefully develop relationships that allow a more direct participation in those kinds of projects.”
The project has become perhaps the City’s most visible capital spending project since the original Flin Flon Aqua Centre was shut down earlier this year. The announcement of a new Aqua Centre project from the City was officially made for the first time last fall, months before the facility was shut for good.
Both Huntley and MacKinnon said they hear questions from community members often about the project.
“Just about daily, if I’m out somewhere, I get a ‘what’s going on with the pool?’” said MacKinnon.
“I’ve never seen it like this.”
“As we get updates, they’ll get updates. Is there still a whole pile of interest? Absolutely,” Huntley said.
“If you want to talk about an essential service, when you have parents and grandparents coming up to talk to you about swimming lessons and all that, it’s imperative that our children have the opportunity to learn how to swim. We believe that is an essential service here.”