I’m writing to the University of New Brunswick and greater Fredericton communities today to provide an update with regards to the future of the Lady Beaverbrook Gymnasium and the Sir Max Aitken Pool.
Last fall, the university received tremendous news from the federal and provincial governments that they would join us in constructing a new home for the faculty of kinesiology, a long-time infrastructure priority for our institution. Construction on our new academic facility began in the fall of 2016 and we are on track to complete construction by late spring 2018.
Our effort to build a new kinesiology building began in earnest in 2004, when we developed a vision for a ‘healthy living village’ at UNB Fredericton. Our vision included a state-of-the-art athletics and recreation facility, a new home for our faculty of kinesiology, and a new aquatics facility.
Since that time, we’ve been successful in accomplishing two-thirds of our vision. Thanks to the generous support of donors and our government partners, The Richard J. CURRIE CENTER opened in 2011 and with the most recent funding announcement, we will realize phase two of the ‘healthy living village’ in 2018. This leaves us with one phase to go, a new aquatics facility.
Over the past decade, we have investigated various options for constructing an aquatics facility and have advocated our case at various times to the city, the Fredericton YMCA and our provincial and federal governments in hopes of helping to find a solution to our community’s aquatics needs; however, we have not been successful and the Sir Max Aitken Pool is past its useful life.
For nearly a century, UNB has provided an aquatics facility for our community—first with the Lady Beaverbrook Residence Pool and now the Sir Max Aitken Pool in the Lady Beaverbrook Gym. We have a strong desire to keep a pool on our Fredericton campus, but our academic mission needs to be our priority; therefore, we recently made the difficult decision to move ahead with plans to decommission the Lady Beaverbrook Gym in the fall of 2018.
Despite our need to move ahead with our plans of decommissioning the Lady Beaverbrook Gym, we are committed to keeping our varsity swim team at UNB and we’re investigating options as to where they will practice and compete after September, 2018. This was not a decision that was taken lightly. We recognize that closing UNB’s pool will have a significant impact on recreation and competitive aquatic programs here in Fredericton.
Other options were investigated in hopes of finding a solution that would not involve our community going without a competitive pool. Our application for Strategic Infrastructure Funding included a commitment on the part of the university to decommission the Lady Beaverbrook Gym upon completion of the new kinesiology building. Our board of governors approved this stipulation after we explored various opportunities to repurpose the Lady Beaverbrook Gym. At the time, our hope was that we would find a workable solution to address the closing of the Sir Max Aitken Pool and we have been working hard towards this end since.
Unfortunately, the priorities of the potential funding partners do not align at this time. We obtained funding for the Currie Center and the kinesiology building because our needs aligned with those of the federal and provincial governments. In the case of the pool, we’ve investigated many options and we’re unable to find an alignment.
In keeping the door open for future opportunities, I have expressed to potential funding partners our interest of having a community aquatics facility on our Fredericton campus. We could contribute land for such an endeavor and contribute to the operating costs of a new facility. Should priorities align in the future, we will be ready to talk. In the meantime, we need to move ahead with the capital priorities that best align with our academic mission.
We will be celebrating and commemorating the Lady Beaverbrook Gym in a number of ways over the next year and we look forward to working with our partners on a new aquatics facility in the future.
H.E.A. (Eddy) Campbell
President & Vice-Chancellor
University of New Brunswick