It’s only the first stage of a three-stage process, but it’s a necessary step towards a regional aquatic facility becoming a reality in Corner Brook.
The city hosted a public consultation regarding the feasibility study for the proposed structure on Wednesday night at City Hall, with about 40 people in attendance to take in a presentation by Darryl Condon.
Condon, the managing principal of HCMA Architecture and Design, said their job began a couple of weeks ago and they’re currently dealing with feasibility assessment — that being the first stage of three. This involves gathering information via background documents, past reports, technical data, and stakeholder feedback.
Over the next few weeks, the hope is to submit a recommendation based on that assessment, which will shape options and narrow in on a size and scope of the facility, including some pros and cons and choices that will have to be made around that.
The next stage would then be a site selection, which is self-explanatory.
The third stage is taking the information gathered in the first two stages to come up with a facility concept, which would feature more detailed information around what’s in the facility and what the potential costs of construction and operating would be moving forward.
All of that would then be combined into the final recommendation, which Condon expected would be complete “early in the new year.”
“We have a lot of work to do in the next few months,” he said.
Condon said HCMA has designed some of the largest and smallest aquatic centres in Canada, so they come with plenty of experience about the components, issues and aspects of a contemporary pool.
“Whatever gets built will be completely different than what you’re used to,” he said, citing current standards of air quality, water quality and accessibility, to name a few.
He said one of the emerging trends shaping the design of modern aquatic facilities is a leaning towards health and wellness, which would include features such as spas, saunas, and other amenities. He said it was really in the late-1980s and early 1990s that the idea of balancing sports-related needs in an aquatic centre with recreation and health really took hold.
“When pools stopped being just a rectangular box,” he said.
He said his firm has certain criteria they believe to be crucial when developing a new pool.
First of all, the idea that every community is different, and that what worked in one town may not work in the next.
Creating healthy environments was also on the list, as was the importance of providing a happy experience so people will come back. Accessibility is also vital, and he said that goes far beyond just ensuring there is a ramp into every single body of water. He said it also includes those with visual, hearing or cognitive impediments.
“That’s the tough thing in these processes,” he said. “We hear from the people who use the pool, but we need to get to the people who aren’t using the current pool and find out why.”
Creating opportunities for social space, and recognizing the building as a community building and a source of pride, were also highlighted.
He outlined six different classifications for aquatic centre usage that will need to be prioritized — competitive sport training, personal fitness, swimming lessons, leisure and recreation, rehabilitation and therapy, and the social role.
“The challenge for the community is to try and create some sort of consensus on what the focus if or the facility and what will be the greatest priority,” he said.
He said there is an online survey on the City of Corner Brook’s website (www.cornerbrook.com) that will allow everyone to express their opinion. The survey will only be online until Oct. 13.
At the end of the presentation, Condon took questions from the public, including one that inquired about the timeline from this process until an actual facility is operational.
Condon said his role is to help shape what the project might look like, and he can’t determine the length of time it would take. However, he said, once a decision is made to proceed with a fully funded project, it would typically be about a year until the ground is broken, and then a year and a half to two years before it would be constructed.
A link to the regional aquatic centre feasibility survey here