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Revitalization Plan For Aquatic Centre

By Brad Perry Sep 9, 2022 | 8:27 AM

The Canada Games Aquatic Centre in Saint John. Image: uptownsj.com

Work continues on developing a long-term business model for the Canada Games Aquatic Centre in Saint John.

It was a commitment asked for by council in February when the city provided the centre with $250,000 in COVID relief funding.

A revitalization plan has been developed as part of the process, and a high-level overview was presented at council on Tuesday night.

“Our revitalization project team has worked together over the past few months to determine the best options for increasing revenue,” Amy MacLennan, general manager of the centre, said in a brief presentation.

MacLennan said the process included market sounding carried out by a consultant, a community services evaluation, public engagement, and calls for expressions of interest.

Based on public feedback, she said swimming lessons were identified as the most important offerings by the community, followed by public swims/drop-in swims and the facility’s fitness centre.

Also important to the community, said MacLennan, is the fact the centre is the home base for aquatics clubs, hosts major events, and offers lifeguarding for area beaches.

MacLennan said the revitalization plan includes three components, the first being continuous improvements.

“What this involves is building up existing offerings for the community to increase revenue, but it’s also continuing ongoing work to identify efficiencies and any opportunities for cost savings,” she said.

An accountability framework has been created by the project team as part of the second component, said MacLennan, to ensure “robust reporting” from aquatic centre management will be made “on a scheduled basis.”

The third and final component deals with what are described as “revitalization initiatives.”

“These will be new revenue streams that will be researched and developed in 2023 to map out the specific details, establish partnerships, and determine the revenue projections for 2024 and beyond,” said MacLennan.

Council approved a one-time transfer of up to $140,000 to fund a “business development resource” to expedite the implementation of the plan.

The approval is dependent on an agreement from municipalities of the Greater Saint John Regional Facilities Commission to contribute their respective shares of funding.

Mayor Donna Reardon said she is excited to see a revitalization plan being developed for the uptown facility.

“I hate to think of just getting rid of a piece of infrastructure that you have without taking a real hard look. This is going to be a real deep dive into a lot of possibilities of what it could be,” said Reardon.

Coun. Greg Norton said he is glad to see the city start taking care of the infrastructure it already has.

“We all like new, we all like shiny, but sometimes we’re not always the best landlords,” said Norton.

Staff from the aquatic centre will provide a progress update to council by July 1, 2023.


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