A group of Kelowna residents gathered in City Park Saturday to talk about a shared dream to see the old Kelowna Aquatic Centre rebuilt, 45 years after the beloved summer hotspot burnt to the ground.
Work began on the impressive structure in City Park, off Abbott St.,in 1909 and it was an integral part of the Kelowna landscape until it was burned down in 1969.
Don Burnett, is one of those spearheading the initiative, he describes the place he loved in his youth.
"Over the years it evolved into an Olympic-sized swimming pool, with an Olympic 10-meter diving tower, and in fact they were in the circuit for the Olympic trials," he recalls.
"Of course it was a community centre too where people came and did their swimming lessons, they did their diving lessons, we had canoe races, and every Tuesday night through the summer was a thing called the aquacade and they would have entertainment...including my rock band on one occasion"
Burnett and Brian Sprout, co-organizer of the rally, want to see a facility built in the same footprint where the Aquatic was until1969. They are hoping to get the community support necessary to start a dialogue with the city.
Burnett says he believes it would be a big draw for Kelowna.
"We know that this was such a factor in our great city here, that the first thing you see when you come over the bridge is the city park and at that time before the Aquatic burnt down you'd see the Aquatic building. It was an advertisement for Kelowna. It was such a factor in the way the downtown community was so strong then."
Kelly Blair is one of many nostalgic Kelowna residents who attended the rally and shares the dream of seeing the Aquatic Centre rising from the ashes all these years later.
"I'm an old Kelowna boy, I've been around since 1963 when we moved here and the Aquatic Centre was it in City Park, it was the place to come."
Blair agrees that a new version of the aquatic centre could draw people to visit.
"During Regatta that was the event that put Kelowna on the map, the Aquatic centre was a huge component of that, all the night time performances... brilliant stuff."
"That's why you'll see the response here today because it was a great facility for families and an asset to the park and Kelowna."
The rally Saturday drew around 50 people to City Park. From here the group intends to set up a game plan. Down the road they will be looking into raising funds by selling shares, the same way the original society did in 1909.
If you are interested in getting involved or finding out more, about the efforts to build a new aquatic centre on the lake, you can email: [email protected]