Fort Nelson rec centre nears completion

As the $34 million Fort Nelson Rec Centre nears completion and prepares to open later this year, the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality is working out how the facility will be staffed.

A special regional council meeting was held to discuss just that, and according to the municipality, plenty of citizens came out to provide feedback.

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Council pre-approved a schedule, yet to be finalized, at this weekend’s budget meeting, which calls for an increase in staffing to maintain the facility’s hours.

Because the facility is larger than the previous one, if the current staffing levels aren’t raised, the hours of operation will have to be decreased. But the increase in staffing will come with a hefty $1 million price tag.

The new facility will boast a lane pool, whirlpool, learner’s pool, leisure pool, sauna and steam room — and that’s just in the aquatic centre. 

There will also be a children's play area, public viewing area, track, climbing wall, and combined squash, raquetball and walleyball court. Facilities completed since 2011 include a secondary, primary arena, community hall and visitor centre.

NRRM staff put three staffing options forward to council for the new facility.

The first and leanest saw no increase in staffing levels with a severe reduction in the facility’s hours. Although the facility would be open seven days of the week, it would only be open a maximum of five and a half hours per day from Friday to Monday, nearly 12 hours on Tuesday and Thursday, and only nine hours on Wednesday for a total of 59.5 hours per week.

The second option had considerably more staffing, open between 11 and 14.5 hours most weekdays, and 6.5 hours on weekends. This represented a 25 per cent increase over the 2014 aquatic personnel budget for the same hours.

The schedule chosen by council after hearing from residents in attendance at the meeting was a reflection of the current hours.

Rather than intermittent hours, they’ll be consistent, open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Monday to Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. The increase will require 28 more building service worker hours per week, and an increase in clerical hours of 44 per week.

“Our old aquatic centre is just up the hill from our main Rec Centre,” said Ross Coupe, deputy manager for the NRRM. “Essentially we’re building a new aquatic centre, attached to our rec centre.”

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