On Aug. 30, a number of Cache Creek and area residents were at the Cache Creek pool, where they spoke about what the pool means to the community and the importance of keeping it open. A petition and Facebook page have also been launched, to show support for the pool.
The move comes as staff and council for the Village of Cache Creek prepare to consult with the public about the Village’s financial situation, and CAO Martin Dalsin says that the future of the pool will be a part of that broader discussion.
The possibility that the pool might close was raised earlier this year and discussed at a Town Hall meeting in Cache Creek on May 11, when staff and council defended their decision to raise property taxes by 10 per cent for the 2019 tax year. It was noted that for the past several years the Village has been transferring between $200,000 and $300,000 annually from the Landfill Legacy Fund in order to make up for not raising property taxes.
Dalsin said in May that council would have to consider closing the 50-year-old pool facility after the summer 2019 season, unless a new funding source could be found. Speaking with The Journal last week, Dalsin said that it costs the Village around $100,000 a year to keep the pool open, which does not include any capital costs that might arise in maintaining the facility, which is showing signs of its age.
“We’ve gone over the financial figures for the last five years,” says Dalsin, “and income is between $6,700 and $9,600 a year.” He adds that the last time the Village charged members of the public for public swims was 2012, and the amount that came in for that was $3,300. Since 2012, the Village has continued to charge for Aquafit, swim lessons, and pool rentals.
“It’s my feeling that people are willing to pay per use for public swims,” says Dalsin; a feeling echoed by Cache Creek resident Amelia Smart, who — along with Heather O’Brien — recently organized the petition and Facebook page (Help Save the Cache Creek Pool) to show support for keeping the pool open.
“People are definitely supportive of paying for public swimming,” she says.
Smart’s family moved to Cache Creek when she was a year old, and she grew up in the community. She moved away for post-secondary education, but returned to the community in 2014 and has lived there ever since. She says that the online petition — which is still up, and can be signed at www.change.org — came first, and was followed by a paper petition, which has now closed. She estimates that between the two, they have gathered some 500 signatures of people who support keeping the Cache Creek pool open.
She notes that anyone who wants to support the pool can sign the online petition, even if they do not live in Cache Creek.
“It’s open to everyone, because so many people who live outside Cache Creek use the pool. It serves people in six communities besides Cache Creek itself.”
A common theme of people who spoke on Aug. 30 was how much they, their children, and in some cases their grandchildren have enjoyed the pool over the years, taking swim lessons and getting lifeguard training, enjoying the pool, and relaxing in the water during a hot summer’s day. Many also spoke of the lack of amenities for residents of Cache Creek, and their fear of losing another one.
“Cache Creek has had it really rough in the last few years,” says Smart. “[Losing the pool] would be another devastating blow.”
She adds that several people have brought up the fact that Ashcroft, 12 kilometres away, has a pool which could be used by residents of Cache Creek if their pool closes. It has also been suggested that instead of spending money to run the pool, Cache Creek could install a water park, which would be less costly to maintain.
“If there was some sort of transportation to Ashcroft then that would be good,” says Smart. “But a lot of kids in Cache Creek ride their bikes or walk to the pool. If there’s no transportation and they don’t have a ride [to Ashcroft], then they’ll go to the river, and that could end tragically.
“And while a water park would be an alternative, I understand that they’re really only good for kids up to the age of about 10. It doesn’t help older children, or adults or seniors, who value the aerobics classes and adult lap swims because they’re low impact. They’re also good for people with disabilities.”
Dalsin says that staff have put together all the high priority budget items and a draft budget for council to review in September, which will be taken to a series of public meetings starting in October.
“There are some very high priority items that we have to take care of, over and above the pool. But don’t get me wrong; council really wants to keep the pool open.”
Smart says she believes that most people understand the financial position of the Village. “But they don’t understand what’s wrong with the pool. We know it’s old and needs updates, but there’s no real understanding of why they would close the pool.
“People definitely want to save the pool, and they’re shocked. They don’t know what people will do without it.
“There’s a lot we don’t know right now, and a lot of questions. But we’ll make it work somehow.”