Fredericton's mayor 'disappointed' by impending closure of UNB pool

Despite the impending closure of the Lady Beaverbrook Gym and Sir Max Aitken Pool, Fredericton's mayor says the city's main priority is still a new performing arts centre.

The University of New Brunswick announced Wednesday that the facility would be decommissioned in September of 2018.

In a statement, university president and vice-chancellor Dr. Eddy Campbell said the pool is past its useful life.

"Over the past decade, we have investigated various options for constructing an aquatics facility and have advocated our case at various times to the city, the Fredericton YMCA and our provincial and federal governments in hopes of helping to find a solution to our community's aquatics needs," said Campbell. "However, we have not been successful and the Sir Max Aitken Pool is past its useful life."

"Despite our need to move ahead with our plans of decommissioning the Lady Beaverbrook Gym, we are committed to keeping our varsity swim team at UNB and we're investigating options as to where they will practice and compete after September, 2018."

Mayor Mike O'Brien said in a statement that the city is disappointed by the news, and understands the decision will impact those in the university community, and residents across the Fredericton region.

O'Brien said the city is already engaged in contingency planning for service delivery in the fall of 2018.

"The City will be able to accommodate a good portion of the demand for lap swim capacity, swimming lessons, and leisure swims currently met by the UNB pool," he said, "but recognize that existing community assets, do not meet the technical requirements for all sports currently housed within the facility."

The mayor says a new performing arts centre to replace the aging Playhouse remains the city's number one capital project priority, and the city also remains committed to helping facilitate much-needed upgrades at the Fredericton International Airport.

O'Brien said a new aquatics facility is not something the city can do on its own.

"Going forward, it will be important for all stakeholders, including the YMCA, UNB, STU, local aquatic clubs, and all pool users, as well as all levels of governments – federal, provincial, and municipalities in the region, to work together to fully understand the current and future demands for aquatics and from that, what options are available to meet that demand."