Reflections on a pool

April 6, 2023

Photos: Northern Development

On December 14, 2017, the West Fraser Aquatic Centre was bustling with activity as people celebrated the grand reopening of the Sam Ketcham Pool in the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex. The $14.1 million improvement project demonstrates a tangible investment into the physical and mental well-being of residents and serves as a tool for attracting and retaining residents.

The celebration was especially meaningful as it occurred five months after the Williams Lake was evacuated due to the devastating wildfires of 2017.

“The pool had been closed since February and undergoing construction since April 2016,” said Darron Campbell, manager of community services, Cariboo Regional District, after the facility reopened. “We were very anxious to have it back open for the public. Not only was it open to help welcome people back home immediately after the evacuation, but also served as a comfortable place to go when the smoke in the community was really bad for the weeks to come.”

People flocked to the pool, with use increasing by nearly 50 per cent in its first year after the renovations.

The project also provided significant benefit to the local economy, with over $6.5 million in construction contracts being awarded to local contractors and suppliers. The work resulted in a new fitness centre, lap tank, swirl pool, leisure pool and steam room.

Northern Development invested $250,000 through its Economic Diversification Infrastructure (EDI) funding program to support the development of a quality recreation facility in Williams Lake. The EDI funding program was retired in 2020. Under new funding programs introduced in 2020, this same project would have been eligible for funding through the Recreation Infrastructure program.