Earlier this week, Regina’s city council voted unanimously to construct a new aquatic centre and geothermal facility.
The new centre would replace the ageing Lawson Aquatic Centre while also featuring plenty of extra amenities.
Though the federal government still needs to approve the funding for the project, Craig Nieuwstad, head coach of the Regina Dolphins and Cougars swim team, said it’s hard not to get his hopes up.
“Pretty excited as a whole for the whole aquatic community,” he said. “The Lawson is great, but it can’t accommodate everything. To see that the new facility is getting closer and closer to becoming a reality just gets me excited for the future of aquatics in Regina.”
A replacement for the Lawson facility was first included in the City of Regina’s 2009/2010 Recreation Master Plan before being included in the updated 2019 plan.
Through the almost decade and a half of a new facility being discussed by Regina’s city council, Nieuwstad said this go-around feels different.
“It does feel different,” he stated. “I feel like it’s a lot further in the process. We are obviously all holding thumbs that it gets pushed through, and I think with all the research that has been done on the Lawson and how it’s not sustainable, that has pushed the City to take it this far.”
For Nieuwastad, he said that the new facility would have many positive including expanding the City’s ability to provide swimming lessons.
“Drowning’s a big issue in Saskatchewan, Canada, worldwide, so just being able to have our community have a place where those kinds of lessons can be offered is huge, which will most likely accommodate more people to learn and swim.”
Nieuwastad said another positive could lead to larger swim competitions, leading to a bigger economic impact.
“The amount of growth there’s been in our sport in Saskatoon having those two facilities (Shaw Centre & Harry Bailey) has been big,” he said. “We just got back from a competition in Saskatoon, and just seeing the numbers that the Saskatoon club has, is exciting, knowing that with more space available, we could grow to that extent.
“If we are able to host a national competition, all of those hotels and that sector of our economy can grow to during times where the Riders aren’t playing are those no major events coming to Regina,” he continued.
He added that the new facility allows more Regina residents to enjoy a day in the water.