KAMLOOPS — Despite the recommendations of several in the City Hall hierarchy, Council voted over two years ago to shut down the Westsyde Pool, refurbish it with a new roof, a new aquatic climbing wall that would be the envy of many pools in the country, and keep the residents of Westsyde happy. Now we will see if Westsyde residents justify the City Council’s faith in their word that they will support the facility.
If not, the residents of Westsyde will have cost the taxpayers a lot of money, and prevented a brand new facility being built somewhere else on the North Shore.
When the issue of the pool’s future came up, one of the ideas was to close the pool, and use the several million dollars in renovation money to go toward construction of a larger, perhaps more functional facility somewhere else on the North Shore, probably near McArthur Island. Westsyde residents clamored for the renovation and the preservation of their existing structure, and suggested the community needed that facility. They said Westsyde residents would take advantage of it, even though there were skeptics based on previous use. Council supported that view. And yesterday, the brand new (or almost new) facility opened. Beautiful. No question about it. Great lighting, shortly a new aquatic climbing board, one of the largest anywhere, some new programs, and a great opportunity for that structure to get a new lease on life.
But now we’ll find out whether the talk by Westsyde residents was just talk, or whether they will support the new facility with their actions. Westsyde, like Valleyview, is a relatively small part of the City. And because it’s not a “destination” part of the City, most of the use of that facility will be from residents of the area. If the climbing wall is something spectacular, it will draw some people from elsewhere, but most of the people attending will be Westsyde residents. While the argument has been made that residents, especially young people, need something in their area to keep them active, we’ll see whether or not the young people actually go there.
I’m all for giving the pool a chance. But if the facility languishes after spending all that money, we will have missed an opportunity to build a new facility that would have attracted a larger population to please a small section of the community. And we will have created a white elephant that will sit there until, once again, the roof rots away and we’re faced with the same decision all over again. The ball is in Westsyde’s court. Let’s see what they do with it.