Disclaimer: Caroline Mercier is a member of the Varsity Reds Swim Team, a Lifeguard and Instructor at the Sir Max Aitken Pool, and a coach for the Fredericton Aquanauts Swim Team. They write in response to an email sent out from the administration regarding the closure of the LB Gym and the Sir Max Aitken pool, using information obtained due to their roles within the facility.
UNB President Eddy Campbell announced this morning via email that the Lady Beaverbrook Gym and the Sir Max Aitken (SMA) Pool will be decommissioned in the fall of 2018. This includes the removal of all activity, both from the university and the surrounding community, from the building.
The decision was made as part of the university’s “healthy living village,” which began with Richard J. Currie Center, completed in 2011. The university maintains that the buildings were built in order of necessity, with the last of three phases being the planned community aquatic facility.
UNB has provided the Fredericton community with access to an aquatic facility for the better part of the last century, though the removal of the facility will affect some groups much more than others. The Sir Max Aitken pool is the only pool with substantially deep water and a diving tower in the city. The decommissioning of the facility will greatly impact the future of the Fredericton Synchronized Swimming Club and the Fredericton Diving Club, who need both the pool depth and structure due to the nature of their sports. As of Fall 2018, they will have nowhere in the city to go.
Other groups are less impacted by this, comparatively. The Fredericton Aquanauts Swim Team is already stretching their pool space as far as they can, and with the removal of the SMA facility, will need to stretch their time at smaller pools such as the YMCA and the Fredericton Indoor Pool even further. Families who receive swimming lessons from the university and individuals from the community who use the facility for lap swim and other recreational activities will be forced to go elsewhere, despite program overcrowding already being an issue at the other facilities. Students will be without the facility and all it has to offer, such as scuba classes, kayaking, recreation, and aquatic intramurals, amongst other things.
As for the Varsity Reds swim team, there is a contingency plan in place. Coaches and administration are searching for other practice space options, such as the Canada Games Aquatic Centre in Saint John, and other options outside of the city. The university is committed to assisting the team through shuttling efforts and is looking at facilities in New Brunswick that could potentially host an AUS Swimming Championships.
The University is waiting on cooperation from the City of Fredericton and other partners in order to fund a new potential aquatic center. As of now, however, there are no publicly expressed plans that indicate how this would come to fruition or the timeline associated with the construction.