a much welcome and needed public space where residents from infants
to elders can come together and participate in healthy living activities"
one in's a rotten egg ... a man flies off the diving board
into Iqaluit's new pool following the grand opening Jan. 26.
(photo by Steve Ducharme - Nunatsiaq News)
"We're here!" said a little girl as she climbed the steps of
Iqaluit's brand new aquatic centre in a remark that seemed both
excited and relieved that the wait was finally over.
Indeed, after four years without a pool in Nunavut's capital,
many in Iqaluit can collectively celebrate the end of a sometimes
agonizing countdown to the big day.
So it should come as no surprise that many took time out from
their lunch hour Jan. 26 to cheer on Iqaluit mayor Madeleine Redfern
as she sliced through a ribbon with an ulu, signifying the grand
opening of the city's newest facility and largest ever infrastructure
"This creates a much welcome and needed public space where residents
from infants to elders can come together and participate in healthy
living activities," Redfern said, flanked by city councillors, Community
and Government Services Minister Joe Savikataaq, Nunavut MP Hunter
Tootoo and Nunavut Senator Dennis Patterson.
Behind the building's doors: one of the most modern public facilities
built in the North to date, boasting a 25-metre lap pool, leisure
pool, fitness centre, saunas, jacuzzi and all the other luxuries
you'd find in southern cities.
"Living in the Arctic, some people feel like we have to compromise
on the architecture, in terms of our buildings, in terms of our
enjoyment of life," Iqaluit's deputy mayor, Romeyn Stevenson, told
media after the ceremony.
"This building proves we don't."
The $40.6 million facilitygreenlit by city council in
2013 and heavily criticized by some as overly luxurious for a debt-ridden
citywas completed under-budget with about $500,000 to spare,
But any impact that the building has had on the city's financial
healthonce described as "laughable" in 2015took a back
seat Thursday to the bigger impact it will have on the quality of
life for Iqalungmiut.
"There's going to be more places for the children to go, it
will take them out of the house more, because its more activity
based," Iqaluit elder Oleepeeka Nooshoota told Nunatsiaq News during
the pool's public tour.
"It's going to help them both mentally and physically. A swimming
pool like this makes Iqaluit a better capital."
"It's amazing, beautiful," said Susie Alainga, who was planning
to bring her daughter back later for the free public swim.
But one important person was missing from the celebrationthe
late former-mayor Jimmy "Flash" Kilabuk who in his years on city
council advocated heavily for the facility before his death in 2013.
"It was Jimmy who really understood the benefit this facility
could make to our community, especially the youth," Coun. Simon
Nattaq said, as he presented a commemorative certificate to Kilabuk's
family members during the opening ceremony.
"He knew that he wanted to ensure that such a facility would
always be accessible to all residents, especially citizens who are
too often marginalized and might not be able to afford it."
But with drop-in and day passes for families of five currently
set at $16 or $28 respectively, marginalized Iqalungmiut could be
left out after all.
The city's recreation director, Amy Elgersma, says work is already
underway on subsidized passes for low-income beneficiaries.
"Right now we're just building up the fund and the program will
roll out as soon as we can," she told media.
The fund will help about 500 families, who will be invited at
a later date to apply to the city for the subsidy, Elgersma explained.
During a gala held the night before the aquatic centre officially
opened, the city collected about $18,000 for the fund, Elgersma
That will be added to the approximately $80,000 collected already
through the city's REACH campaign.
Lifeguard training and other swim-related certificate courses
at the pool will also contribute to the local economy, Elgersma
Currently, the facility employs 15 part-time lifeguards, as
well as 10 full-time staff working in both the pool area and fitness
Seven of those employees are Inuit.
"It's always our goal to have a representative workforce," Elgersma
said, who added the facility is still looking to fill one full-time
And volunteers will run many of the programs and classes offered
through the fitness centre.
Beginning on opening dayand continuing today, Jan. 27admission
to all the aquatic centre facilities is free.
The centre will be open until 10 p.m. on Jan. 27, with free
admission beginning at 12 noon.
For a full list of the weekend's programming, visit the city's