TRURO - When discussions began more than five years ago about the possibility of a new health and wellness centre for our community, many people thought the new centre would simply be another hockey rink for the region.
As plans progressed and a new centre was becoming a reality, it was clearthe new facility would be much more than a place to skate. The potential to meet other areas of the community's need was apparent and it was important to the project steering Committee to explore all opportunities.
As part of this process, a feasibility study was conducted that included a look into the need for a new aquatics facility in our region due to the age and limitations of the existing facilities. The study concluded that a new facility would contribute to an improved quality of life for local residents as a result of an increase in the variety of programs and new opportunities that would be available, leading to an increase in participation.
Of all the recreational components, the aquatic centre would appeal to the broadest range of participants - from infants to seniors - increasing the physical activity levels among the residents of the area.
Colchester County Mayor Bob Taylor has spent many hours assisting with the coordination of fundraising efforts and was a member of the board that was instrumental in re-opening the Scotia Pool located in Bible Hill in 1999. He is sad to see it close but also recognizes that to continue to offer a safe and functional facility to the public, it is not feasible for taxpayers to continue to fund the older facility.
"I would like to commend the board members, volunteers and staff of the Nova Scotia Agricultural College who have operated the Scotia Pool over the past 13 years," said Taylor, a project co-chairman. "They have been a dedicated group that have worked diligently for the best interest of the Scotia Pool and its patrons."
The Central Nova Scotia Civic Centre's aquatic centre will occupy about 35,000 square feet and will be equipped with state of the art acoustics, ventilation and lighting. It will be comprised of a 25-metre, eight-lane competitive pool, as well as a therapeutic leisure pool with a water slide. The leisure pool will comfortably accommodate about 25 people and has a gradual decline in depth from 1.5 metres to one metre, while the competitive pool's depth declines from 3.8 metres to one.
There is spectator bleacher seating for about 250 people that overlooks both pools, as well as on-deck seating. Also available in the aquatic centre will be men's, ladies and family change areas, a co-ed sauna and administrative space.
Many people rely on the pools not only for recreational use but as a tool to improve their health and mobility.
Diversified programming will be offered at the centre such as senior and injury related programs primarily to be held in the leisure pool as the temperature will be slightly warmer than the competitive pool for therapeutic benefits. The new aquatic centre will also attract the potential of hosting provincial swim meets where the existing facilities do not meet requirements associated with this type of event.
"Moving from a six-lane pool to the new civic centre's eight lanes will give the Truro Centurions Swim Club the opportunity to grow our team substantially," said Barry Mingo, president of the swim club.
"It also allows us to host provincial three-day swim meets that will bring swimmers from all over the province to stay and compete in Truro. We are very proud to have been awarded the junior provincial short course championships next February by Swim Nova Scotia. These are options the team has never had before. It is all very exciting."
The facility's accessibility and age-friendly capability has also been a priority since the initial planning stages as it was important to the project team to build a facility that would be inviting and enjoyable to all residents.
To ensure this, the facility will include adequate marked special needs parking that will be designated at the main entrances located at both levels of the facility - the upper level and lower level allowing for easy access depending on the reason for visiting the centre.
All washrooms and change areas include wheelchair access and both the competitive pool and the leisure pool will offer ramp access for those who might have difficulty lowering his or herself into the water.
Also, in the centre's arena, there are designated handicap viewing areas on both levels and an elevator is available for those wishing to change floors once inside.
"We want all residents of the region to feel comfortable visiting the new centre," said Greg MacArthur, Truro town councilor and project co-chairman. "It is important that everyone who wants to take part in programs and events held at the new facility are able to have 100 per cent access."
As anticipation builds for opening day, I believe the Central Nova Scotia Civic Centre will be a place for our community to gather, play and thrive and we will be proud to call it ours.
Heather Fraser is the fundraising/public relations assistant for the Ignite the Spirit Campaign-Central Nova Scotia Civic Centre project.