Princeton’s Pool Referendum costs announced

The Town of Princeton has announced costs associated with the controversial Pool Referendum that divided town last year.

The Town of Princeton has announced costs associated with the controversial Pool Referendum that divided residents last year.

Just over $25,000 was spent during the design and feasibility stage, including fees for design concepts, public engagement meetings, a feasibility study that looked at capital and operating costs, travel and advertising, said a report to council Monday evening.

Around $20,000 was spent on the referendum, including fees for a communications plan, independent review of capital and operating costs, advertising and Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen referendum administration costs.

Funding for the design and feasibility stage was provided by the Princeton and District Community Forest Corporation, while referendum costs were paid through general property taxes.

Voter turnout

Princeton was split on whether to invest in a new pool. Fifty-two per cent of residents voted against the pool, while 48 per cent voted for it.

Voters in Area H were more divided on the issue. Seventy-eight per cent voted against the pool, while only 22 per cent voted for it.

Thirty-seven per cent of eligible voters from Princeton cast their ballot. Just over 500 people voted against the new pool, while 474 voted for it.

Close to 970 people voted no in Area H, while 269 voted yes. Fifty-six per cent of eligible voters showed up.

What didn’t work

Too much time had elapsed between the feasibility study done in 2008 and the referendum in 2011, and more time should have been spent to review the design and proposal, according to the report.

The report also mentioned the timeline for the referendum was too tight, and that is should have been postponed until after the civic election in spring 2012.

Other short-comings of referendum planning included:

-Non-residents of Area H were a stronger factor in the referendum than was anticipated.

-Political support of the referendum process was weak at public meetings and did not appear unified.

-more time should have been provided for public surveys.

-Parcel tax was not completely understood, and some people were confused.

What worked well

The report also mentioned what worked well in the referendum, including:

-The town provided a good communication plan.

-Information was shared well with other communities.

-There was a lot of community involvement.

-Dedicated and knowledgeable committee members were involved.

The complete report is available at town hall.

Background of referendum

Plans to have a new aquatic centre in Princeton date back to a feasibility study in the spring of 2008, when the Town of Princeton and the RDOS began exploring options to replace the aging Centennial Pool.

Over 120 people came to the first open house in May, 2008 to hear about a possible indoor aquatic centre.

After the open house, a steering group was formed to help direct the consultant who was working on plans for the pool.

In April 2009, the consultants provided their final report on the pool, including capital and operating costs. But further work on the initiative was deferred by the town and the RDOS due to the economic climate at the time.

In March 2011, town council prepared a draft plan to renew the aquatic centre initiative.

The referendum was held on Sept. 24, 2011.