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Fernie Aquatic Centre to get new starting blocks

The new blocks will allow the centre to host more competitive swim meets

The Fernie Aquatic Centre is in line to get some brand new swim starting blocks, after the City of Fernie approved allocating $30,000 in Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) funding towards the project.

The project, which was championed by the Elk Valley Dolphins Swim Club, has a total cost of $40,000, and will see the centre have its old starting blocks replaced with Swim Canada regulation-compliant starting blocks, allowing the centre to host more swim meets and competitions going forward. The old starter blocks have reached the end of their lives, and are not within Swim Canada regulations.

Jillian Rutherford of the Dolphins Swim Club said that the six new starting blocks being within Swim Canada regulation meant the club was in a better position to host more swim meets in the future.

“We want to be able to bring in excellent athletes, and we don’t want a technicality to derail anyone’s swim time or scores,” she said.

Rutherford said that since the club began hosting swim meets in 2002, it had built up a good reputation as a host club. The club traditionally hosts a spring swim meet in April, and has hopes to begin hosting a fall meet for older swimmers (13-18) in coming years (including maybe this year).

“We wanted to broaden our appeal with an event that was well-attended,” she said.

“We have a track recording of hosting a successful meet, so adding another one benefits local business, and also helps with fundraising for our club.”

Speaking at the council meeting, Chief Administrative Officer of the City of Fernie, Michael Boronowski said that the rationale for supporting the funding was solid, as RMI and Resort Development Strategy (RDS) funding was intended to help resort communities diversify their economy and spread out economic activity through shoulder seasons.

“The opportunity to increase competitive swimming and pull in regional travel (such as) families of swimmers … provides a really strong draw for accommodation and the service sector in general.”

Mayor and council voted unanimously to support the funding request. The rest of the funds for the blocks is being raised by the club itself, and the club hopes they could be installed during the August pool shutdown to minimise any disruption for the pool or its users.

In the same meeting, they also unanimously supported $3,500 to the Fernie and District Historical Society to help fund the 2021 Fernie Chautauqua and Fall Fair provided it can be hosted in compliance with the provinces health orders that may be in effect at the time.

The total funding requirement of the Chautauqua fair is $50,465, with the balance of funding coming from a myriad of other funding sources including the Federal Government’s ‘Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage’ fund which supports recurring festivals.

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