An application to fund the building of an indoor aquatic centre has been denied. File photo

Province turns thumbs down on Princeton’s pool dreams

$14 million grant application for aquatic centre denied

Cold water was thrown on the town’s dreams of an aquatic centre, again, as the municipality was notified recently its grant application for funds to build an indoor pool was denied.

“I’m disappointed,” said Mayor Spencer Coyne. “It’s pretty frustrating. We’ve done everything that we’ve been asked to do by the province and it’s like it doesn’t matter.”

The municipality applied in October 2020 for a $14 million provincial-federal government grant to build a wellness and aquatic centre.

Six months earlier, an application for $20 million for a similar facility was denied.

Related: Province denies $20 million grant application for Princeton’s aquatic centre

Coyne said this second rejection puts the long held hopes for an indoor pool in Princeton at risk.

“I want to take it back to the public and we’ll see what council wants to do,” he said.

When the application was made last year, engineers were engaged to scale down the original design, in hopes of making it more attractive to funders.

A letter from the province dated July 27, 2021, states: “The program received significantly more applications than could be funded. This decision does not reflect on the importance of this project for your community, but rather the degree by which the program has been oversubscribed.”

Coyne isn’t satisfied with that explanation.

“The difficult part is we talked to the premier. The previous premier told the previous council that this was something that was supposed to happen, apparently. So this premier, we talked to (him) about the pool and he said it was a great idea.

“We worked at everything that the province suggested we get done and it still seems like it’s not enough to get our hands on any of these grants.”

The mayor noted the town has also been denied grants for housing, infrastructure and tourism this year.

The total cost of the pool, under the most recently application, was to be $20 million, with the town paying for $6 million of the project. The total cost of the earlier proposal was $27 million.

A future amenities fund of $3.8 million has been earmarked as part of the municipal contribution.

The pool was to be built on Bridge Street and would have included a lap pool suitable for competition, a lazy river, leisure pool, hot tub and sauna.

CAO Lyle Thomas said he was “extremely disappointed” with the rejection. Thomas said the pool issue in Princeton goes back at least to the early 1990s, when a proposal for a facility was defeated at referendum.

He has worked on every pool plan put forward since that time.

“I’ve been involved in all the conceptual designs and community engagement processes. I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle on what the community desires and needs. We just haven’t been able to find the funder,” he said.

Thomas said he was “optimistic” the latest plan would be approved, however, he learned afterwards, from ministry staff, that some felt the project was to ambitious for the community.

Related: Princeton council dives into new pool proposal

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