By Nikki Jamieson
It may be a year late, but that didn’t stop people from celebrating the official grand opening of the Vauxhall community pool.
“Kids are playing in the pool already, they beat us to it,” said Margaret Plumtree, mayor of Vauxhall, with a laugh during a speech for the official grand opening of the pool on June 16.
“But truly this was a community group effort, and we truly appreciate all the work and all the fundraising that we have all done to make this project a reality.”
Vauxhall had to close its pool for the season in 2013 due to extensive leakage. After a series of tests designed to try to find the leaks came back inconclusive the following year, an open house was held on the pool’s fate, with Vauxhall town council making the tough decision to close the pool and build a new one.
Plumtree thanked the local businesses, residents, the Vauxhall Friends of the Pool Society — which prompted wide-spread applause — and the Municipal District of Taber for getting the pool up and running, noting that the latter’s support helped the town receive a $350,000 Alberta Community Partnership Program grant, which had put a huge dent into the $877,500 price tag — including landscaping and accessories — for the pool.
“So take a moment, and congratulate each other for the hard work and the contributions we all made to make our pool a reality.”
M.D. Reeve Brian Brewin credited the Friends of the Pool society for “the dream”, and thanked everyone in the community for getting the pool back up and running.
“It’s unreal to see this behind me. It’s always amazing to see what small communities can do when they get their minds together and put to work to make something happen,” said Brewin. “On behalf of the M.D. and the ratepayers of the M.D.; congratulations on this event.”
The Vauxhall Friends of the Pool Society had been the fundraising force for the pool, hosting things like BBQs and bake sales and collecting donations to get the pool up and running. The grand opening was a sign of all the hard work they put into get the pool built and up and running again paying off.
“Just happy to see everyone here, and the pool’s doing really well,” said Tammy Turner, society member.
“It truly was a community effort,” said Angela Odland, society member.
“I’ve had nothing but positive feedback either, from everybody. (Everybody’s) happy the pool’s back,” said Valerie Mattice, society member.
Due to the large grant from the Alberta Community Partnership Program, the provincial government had wanted someone to be there for the grand opening.
Unfortunately, no one was able to make it down, so the town was given the go-ahead to host it without them.
“The government likes to be involved with it, so they were planning on coming down and being with us for the grand opening, and they couldn’t make that happen last year, so they asked if we could wait till this year,” said Plumtree.
“And then, how it goes in government is there’s always something happening, and unfortunately, no one can make it today.”
Despite the lack of provincial representation, those attending the grand opening enjoyed a BBQ lunch, free rubber duckies and, of course, a not-so-quick dip in the pool.
With the slide — which was completed at the end of last year’s swimming season — and the landscaping completed, it was an enjoyable day for all.
“Obviously, swim safely, but have fun and enjoy,” said Plumtree, of the pool’s swimmers. “This community did a lot of work to make it happen for you, just have fun.”