ELMSDALE: Get excited East Hants, it’s almost time for that first long-awaited dip in the new $19 million dollar constructed East Hants Aquatic Centre.

It was scheduled to open on March 16, however facilities such as it were closed due to public health guidelines as it relates to the COVID19 pandemic.

Now with that almost in the rear-view mirror, and some pools getting the green light to open recently with restrictions in place, The Laker News was taken on a tour of the new facility, located next to the Lloyd E. Matheson Centre in the Elmsdale Business Park. It can easily be seen from Hwy 102 in Elmsdale.

“We’re really excited to get the facility open to the public,” said Municipality of East Hants spokeswoman Jody MacArthur during the tour.

Inside the very modern Aquatic Centre, you are greeted by a reception desk and offices for the staff. At the left as you come in is a multi-purpose room that can house 60 people. MacArthur said it can be rented out by community groups or people who rent part of the pool for birthday parties.

It has its own small kitchen as well, which is just a quick walk to the doors of the pool entry.

“It’s very convenient,” said MacArthur.

Taking our shoes off before we head into the actual main attraction, the pool itself, the facility looks bigger than what it looks like from passing by on Hwy 102.

It’s very roomy, and seems to have something for everyone from a hot tub, to access to the pool for those with accessibility requirements; to a leisure/shallow pool for the younger kids; a six lane, 25 metre pool with lane ropes that are hidden, safe and out of the way in the floor; a “lazy river” resistance pool for people to work their muscles; and even a slide (you have to be 1.2 metres high to use it) that has its own area. There’s even a climbing wall to climb and then fall off back into the water.

Adjacent to the new Aquatic Centre is a splash pad area, there’s an area for parents to sit and watch their kids play in the splash pad area. A long bench is built against the side of the centre where people can sit as well.

“There are different water feature “scenes” that play out in the splash pad, the water goes down, then comes back up, then other spray features will come on,” said MacArthur. “The Shubie River water feature will turn the water on and pump, water goes in and flows down. The kids can splash and play in it.

“This will be really fun for the kids and there is no cost for the splash pad, it’s free.”

She said there will likely be some restrictions around the splash pad due to COVID-19.

The Aquatic Centre has a universal change room that makes it possible for those with accessibility needs to get out and enjoy the new facility. It can be used by the person and their caregiver/helper.

“The adjustable bed, lift and other accessibility features allows swimmers to have some independence and privacy,” she said.

After enjoying the pool, many don’t like to take home a wet swimsuit. Well, you don’t have to at the East Hants Aquatic Centre.

“This is a cool thing here, a swimsuit spinner,” said MacArthur describing one of the items they have built in the locker rooms for users. “You just put your bathing suit in, push the lid down, let it spin and the water comes out at the bottom into the drain. You take your bathing suit out and it’s pretty much dry.

“It’s been very popular with the community as we have received questions about the facility.”

The climbing wall. (Healey photo)

MacArthur said the facility’s cost to build is on budget too. She said the operating expenses and revenues in the next year they can take in will have some effect from the delayed opening due to COVID19.

“Our staff have been working since COVID-19 day one to keep it running, but to also ensure we kept costs down,” she said.

She said there’s something for everyone in the East Hants Aquatic Centre.

“Whether you’re a lane swimmer, or you just want to hang out in the hot pool, or you have a toddler who may like the water features, there really is something for everyone,” said MacArthur. “We really can’t wait to welcome not only the East Hants community but those beyond our borders into the facility.

“It’s been a long time coming and we can’t wait to show it off.”

An official announcement on when it will open—with COVID19 restrictions in place—will be made shortly, MacArthur said.