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‘More than a recreational facility’

Province, Memorial University announce funding for Aquarena

Campus and Community

By Memorial University

To help alleviate the financial shortfall as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and Memorial University have partnered to contribute $600,000 to The Works, to assist with re-opening the Aquarena pool.

Premier Andrew Furey today announced a provincial investment of $400,000. Memorial University contributed $200,000 towards the project.

“The Aquarena pool is more than a recreational facility,” said Premier Furey. “It is the place you come to help manage the everyday stresses of life. As we manoeuvre into a new normal, places such as the Aquarena are important to our health and well-being. That is why our government is pleased to help alleviate the financial shortfall facing The Works, and get the pool re-opened to lessons, to the community and to recreational swims by mid-October.”

Premier Furey was joined by Bernard Davis, minister, Tourism, Culture, Arts and Recreation; Iris Petten, chair, Board of Regents, Memorial University, on behalf of President Vianne Timmons; Bill Thistle, chair, Memorial University Recreation Complex; and Connie Duffett, vice-president, St. John’s Legends Swimming Club, as well as members of the local aquatic community.

“The Aquarena is the heart of aquatic recreation in the province,” said Mr. Thistle. “The Works is eager to resume family-focused recreation programs and training opportunities for the community including students, faculty and staff of Memorial University. This support will also provide the opportunity for our valued employees to return to work. On behalf of The Works, I would like to thank the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and Memorial University for their support and acknowledgment of the importance of recreation, leisure and physical activity to residents of our province.”

The re-opening of the Aquarena will not only benefit the people of the province, but also contributes greatly to the health and wellness of the university community. The Aquarena is not only the recreational focal point for students, faculty and staff on the St. John’s campus; it also provides important on-campus employment opportunities for many students.

Mid-October opening

The Works manages the Field House, Aquarena and recreation facilities on the St. John’s campus of Memorial University.

The Aquarena is the only 50-metre pool in Newfoundland and Labrador and is only one of three competitive pools in Atlantic Canada. In addition, the pool is the main training facility of the St. John’s Legends, Edge Diving Club and Sea Stars Artistic Swimming Club.

Provincial funding is being allocated through the COVID-19 contingency fund, complementing other emergency supports announced by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Government of Canada.

“After meeting with stakeholders, I committed to finding a path forward to re-open the Aquarena pool,” said Minister Davis. “Today’s announcement is proof that we can find a resolution by working together, and I am pleased that users of all ages can get back in the pool for leisure and competition. I thank Premier Furey, as well as Dr. Timmons and Memorial University for recognizing the urgency around this issue.”

For her part, Ms. Duffett said the St. John’s Legends are “thrilled” with the news.

“While the Legends rely heavily on the Aquarena as the home for competitive swimming in the province, we also recognize that the Aquarena is a critical piece of recreation infrastructure that supports the physical and mental health of thousands of patrons across the Northeast Avalon region,” she said.

“We view today’s announcement as an important recognition of the value of sport, fitness and recreation as a cornerstone of a healthy society. The Legends are profoundly grateful for the support of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador in re-opening the Aquarena. When we received the initial news of the Aquarena’s closure, we were facing real questions about our ability to survive the direct and indirect consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. This incredible turnaround marks a great day for the Legends, and for all members of the Newfoundland and Labrador’s aquatics community.”

For an update from The Works, please visit here.

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