Can Burns Lake still have a pool?

“We live in the Lakes District; we should be able to swim,” says pool club president

The dream of having a pool in Burns Lake is not a recent one. The Lakes District Pool Club has been trying to make this dream become a reality for approximately 20 years.

“We’re not giving up,” said Martina Zechendorf, President of the pool club. “We [club members] feel that we have a responsibility to the community to build this pool.”

Over the years, the pool club has accumulated over $50,000 through fundraisings and donations. However, the price to build the proposed pool is estimated at $4 million.

Besides the challenge of not having enough money to build the pool, there is also the uncertainty of who would maintain it. Zechendorf estimates that the yearly cost to maintain the proposed pool would be approximately $500,000.

Applying for any kind of funding at this point would be difficult since the proposed project still does not have a location, she explained.

When the Lakeside Multiplex was opened in 2014, Zechendorf said pool club members were disappointed to see that Burns Lake built a climbing wall but did not invest in a pool.

“It killed our enthusiasm,” she said. “We don’t need a climbing wall; we need a pool. People in Burns Lake have been going to Houston to learn how to swim.”

According to Sheryl Worthing, Chief Executive Officer for Burns Lake, village staff has done some research over the years on building and operating a pool in town. Staff looked at operating costs of other pools in Northern B.C. and found that operating costs for a pool “are very high and would place too much of a burden on tax payers.”

Zechendorf, on the other hand, thinks the benefits of having a pool in Burns Lake outweigh the cost.

“Having a pool in town would make people healthier and could lower expenditures with health care,” she said. “It would be especially beneficial for older people.”

Zechendorf also mentioned that having a pool in town could make Burns Lake a more attractive destination for residents from other parts of the province and therefore improve the local economy.

Over the years, the pool club has considered many options, including partnering with motels in town, and building a therapeutic pool. About two years ago, club members came up with the idea of bringing a transportable pool from Vanderhoof to Burns Lake. The club could not find a location for the transportable pool and eventually gave up on the idea.

“We’re just trying to be creative, and trying to find a way to get a pool of some sort,” she said.

The latest meeting of the pool club took place on March 30, 2015. Members are now discussing the possibility of making the proposed pool privately owned and charging for memberships, as opposed to being a public space.

With currently seven members in the pool club, Zechendorf said they need new people and new ideas.

“We need people who are willing to do some research work and find solutions,” she said. “We need more support.”

People interested in supporting the pool club should contact Martina Zechendorf at 250-692-3951.