Nelson pool opens with a Kaboom!

Politicians celebrated the reopening of the aquatic facility after a 13 month shut-down.

West Kootenay politicians crammed into the newly opened Nelson & District Community Complex aquatic centre during the grand opening ceremony on Thursday

West Kootenay politicians crammed into the newly opened Nelson & District Community Complex aquatic centre during the grand opening ceremony on Thursday

Swimming pools have played a big role in Mayor Deb Kozak’s life.

Before becoming a politician she spent years teaching swimming lessons, and she particularly enjoyed working with kids and people who were deathly afraid of water. Now that the Nelson & District Community Complex’s aquatic facility is open again, she’s planning to bring her two-year-old granddaughter Aizlinn down for a lesson as soon as possible.

“The first thing I’m going to do, of course, is jump in and make the biggest splash I can make,” Kozak told the Star, after posing with her fellow politicians around the newly installed Kaboom — a water toy bound to be popular with youngsters.

“After that I think I’ll go for a nice long swim in the lanes. I’ve always thought that learning to swim and be comfortable around water is a skill that should be taught and shared with everyone. It’s a great joy in my life. Aquatic centres are an integral part of a healthy community.”

Kozak is impressed with the new facility, and was especially effusive about the improved accessibility. A wheelchair ramp has been constructed — removing the need for a lift — and there’s a gateway from the tot pool into the deep end. On the way you can stop to spray the new water cannon and then there’s the new deep end diving plinth, which has been installed beside the water slide.

The mayor was also impressed by the new sauna and steam room, and she’s not the only one hyper-enthusiastic about getting swimming again. During the ceremony she was joined by a contingent of regional politicians, including local city councillors Val Warmington and Janice Morrison as well as Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall.

“This has been a monumental task,” said Kozak. “But now we have a facility that will last for 30, 40 years. It’s been amazing to see how some of the elements have changed to make it a better experience for swimmers. We are so grateful for all the work that’s been done to get to this point.”

Features include a new deck, gutters, underwater lights and a deep end diving board. Lots of the work completed with the mechanical systems and electrical equipment won’t be obvious to visitors, but will keep the facility functioning long-term.

The Canadian government contributed $4.6 million to the project through the federal Gas Tax Fund, while the Regional District of Central Kootenay contributed $1.3 million. Minister Peter Fassbender said in a press release the pool is a great example of different levels of government working together collaboratively.

“Investments through the Gas Tax Fund help meet the needs of infrastructure projects throughout the province, contributing to enhanced amenities and improved health, safety and well-being of our citizens,” he wrote

On Sunday, October 23, there will be public celebration between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., including a hot dog roast, face painting, games and activities, cupcake decorating, live music, and access to the pool.

Kozak figures people will be impressed.

“To have this renewed facility, and to have it for the next 30 or 40 years, is going to do so many things for the development of sport in Nelson and the health and recreation of our entire community.”

Photos below by Tyler Harper