Why keep the Sir Max Aitken Pool open and

plan for a new Capital Region aquatic facility?

For hundreds and hundreds of recreational, therapeutic, fitness, and competitive aquatic users in the Capital Region continued access to the existing—or a new—aquatic facility is absolutely critical in maintaining health and quality of life in our community.

Fredericton’s aquatic users will have diminished access to indoor aquatic facilities, programs and services as soon as September 2018.

With all three aquatic facilities currently being used at capacity1 in Fredericton, New Brunswick, the announced closure of the Sir Max Aitken Pool will mean the entire aquatic community will suffer, as displaced users relocate to other pools. Closure of the pool will result in all Capital Region users experiencing diminished access to competitive and recreational programmes—including:

  • Recreational and Competitive Swimming
  • Synchronized Swimming
  • Diving
  • Rehabilitation and Therapy
  • Scuba Diving
  • Kayaking
  • Group Fitness
  • Water Polo
  • Learn to Swim
  • Lifesaving
  • Lap Swimming
  • Family Swimming
Fredericton Aquanauts Swim Team (FAST) practising at the Sir Max Aitken Pool in Fredericton, NB
Fredericton Synchro Club practising at the Sir Max Aitken Pool
Fredericton Diving Club practising at the Sir Max Aitken Pool

Some aquatic clubs will no longer be able to participate in their activities at all.

For many of Capital Region’s aquatic clubs closure of the Sir Max Aitken Pool, with no plan for a permanent replacement aquatic facility, translates into shutting down their clubs—some of which have taken decades to build. Why? Because other aquatic facilities in the City can’t meet the physical specifications or scheduling requirements of the club’s activities.

  • The SMA Pool is the only pool in Fredericton with the depth required for synchronized swimming, competitive swimming and diving.
  • The SMA Pool is the only pool in Fredericton with starting blocks required for competitive swimming.
  • The high chlorine levels at other pools in Fredericton cannot be tolerated by many seniors and those with health issues.
  • The SMA pool receives 120,000 user visits/year—200,000 if we include competition users. These users cannot be absorbed into other facilities, which are also running at capacity1.

Diminished access to adequate aquatic facilities means diminished health benefits for the Capital Region.

University of New Brunswick Scuba Club
Silver Dolphins Swim Club practising at the Sir Max Aitken Pool in Fredericton, NB
Inline Aquatics training taking place at the Sir Max Aitken Pool in Fredericton, NB

But keeping the Sir Max Aitken Pool open and establishing a plan for a permanent replacement pool means:

  • Increased Physical and Mental Health
  • Increased Program Capacity
  • Continued Inclusion
  • Equitable Access to Sport Participation for Women and Girls
  • Development of Vital Life-Long Skills
  • Preventing the Closure of Longstanding Aquatic Clubs

Continued access to the Sir Max Aitken Pool and a plan for a permanent replacement aquatic facility means everything.


63% of adults and 24% of children and youth in New Brunswick are overweight or obese.2

With the second highest rate of obesity in Canada2, maintaining access to facilities that promote physical health must be on the top of our list. The health benefits of swimming are significant. Swimmers have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, stroke and Type-2 diabetes, and a regular swimming program will improve core strength and stability, HDL (the good form of cholesterol), decrease in blood pressure and total cholesterol3.


4.4 million Canadians live with disability, but only 3% of them actively participate in sport.4

One of the main reasons people with disabilities do not participate in sport is the lack of accessible facilities and programs available.4 Swimming does not require special equipment, which means individuals with disabilities can participate easily, facing few barriers.5 Maintaining the SMA pool and building a new pool means that people with disabilities will continue to be included in the sport community.

Gender Sport Equity

Swimming is the most popular organized sport for women and girls across Canada.6

Swimming is the number one organized sport Canadian girls participate in, with 20% of them choosing swimming. When we consider that 41% of girls between the ages of 3 -17 are not participating in any form of sport and that this percentage continues to increase as women age, the importance of ensuring access to sports and sport facilities that align with those sports women are participating in, becomes clear. We need to do all we can to maintain access to a competitive pool to increase the inclusion of women and girls in sport in our community.7

Lifelong Skills

Swimming is a sport for life.

Not only does swimming increase confidence around water and provide numerous health benefits, it also provides valuable life skills like goal setting, discipline, teamwork, a sense of belonging and the ability to save your own or someone else’s life.

How do we tackle the aquatic facilities crisis?

Our work includes research, advocacy, public outreach and education on the issues affecting the Capital Region’s aquatic facility users. We work closely with the numerous aquatic clubs affected by the decommissioning of the Sir Max Aitken Pool and present unified priorities to all levels of government as well as the University of New Brunswick. By advocating for access to aquatic facilities in the Capital Region meeting the requirements of the clubs who use them, we ensure our community members are healthy, are included, have equitable access to sport participation for women and girls, and learn valuable lifelong skills.

Participation in aquatic programs at the Sir Max Aitken Pool changed the lives of Nakua Dralle, Maureen Caslake, Taylor Belczewski, Jesse Canney, Gillian Butler and Clara Brewer. Read their stories.

Nakua Dralle

Fredericton Aquanauts Swim Team

I joined swimming because of health reasons. There wasn't any other plan. My mother and I thought it would be best to prevent myself from having to use medication to stay healthy. Swimming then evolved into a place where I had another family, a group of friends who were always there for me. I've made most of my friends on swim teams and I'm glad I met them. The pool gave me a place where I can fully express myself.

Maureen Caslake

Silver Dolphins Swim Club

I joined the Silver Dolphins after being medically released from the Canadian Armed Forces. I was a 20 year veteran diagnosed with Operational Stress Injuries. I tried Aquasice but found Lap swimming was more beneficial to me. When I am in the water, my mind has one thought, swim. No intrusive, disturbing thoughts. No panic, no anxiety. My body and soul are relaxed just doing something I like. There is no evil lurking around me. It is a very safe place for me to be. I also, have been able to maintain my level of physical fitness I had while serving. Losing access to the SMA will be a hardship for me. It frightens me to consider I may not have a place to swim. The routine and the friendships the club provides for me is a life ring. I do not want to lose it.

Taylor Belczweski

Fredericton Aquanauts Swim Team

I am 13 years old and swim with FAST. I was born with a visual impairment. I’ve lived with one eye and most of the time, I’m fine. But where I have encountered difficulty is playing sports. The only sport I’ve ever been interested in, or good at, is swimming. Swimming is easier for me than most sports because the amount of things I need to see is very minimal. It hasn’t always been easy for me, but I value being part of the FAST team, and I have grown and improved with the support of the coaches and my teammates. I would feel lost if I could no longer swim competitively.

Jesse Canney

S14 Para Swimmer | Fredericton Aquanauts Swim Team

Jesse has severe autism and began swimming at age 11 with the Capital Region Special Olympics program and joined FAST at age 15. He has since excelled as a competitive swimmer in an inclusive environment. Jesse trains very hard, never complaining about his rigorous training schedule. He has learned how to be a teammate, how to prioritize, and how to set goals. Swimming competitively has changed Jesse’s life for the better. The sport has led him to opportunities his family had never thought possible. He competes in provincial, national & international competitions. His goal is to qualify for the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Jesse essentially is non-verbal but when you ask him what his favourite thing to do is, he always says “swimming”.

Gillian Butler

Fredericton Synchro

My name is Gillian Butler and I have been swimming since the age of 3. I am now 11 years old. I have been a competitive synchronized swimmer for three years. Swimming has changed my image of myself. I have short hair and being a competitive synchronized swimmer has given me confidence as a girl. I have realized how strong I am and what my body can do!

Clara Brewer

Fredericton Aquanauts Swim Team

Learning to swim has helped me build confidence in myself and my ability to learn new things. Swimming helps me make new friends. Swimming keeps me strong and healthy, so when I get older I won’t have any health problems.

The average aquatic facility creates $2.72 million a year in value to the community, according to an Australian study.

It’s a solid investment. Keeping the Sir Max Aitken pool open, while building a new competitive aquatic facility is an excellent plan to support the Capital Region’s economy. From local economic, health, and workplace productivity benefits to increased property values and local tax base to enhanced sense of community and social capital, the benefits are huge.8

  • In Canada, the economic burden of illness or injuries associated with physical inactivity, in 2009, was $6.8 billion, representing 3.7% of all health care costs.9
  • Only 15% of Canadian adults and 9% of youth get the recommended amount of weekly exercise.9
  • An Australian study found, however, one visit to a public swimming pool each week could shift most individuals out of the physically inactive category, and cut risks of lifestyle-related disease by 16%, saving over $4500/person in better health, reduced medical costs and improved work attendance each year.8

Join us in advocating for continued access to aquatic facilities in the Capital Region meeting the requirements of the clubs who use them.

Stay informed about the ways we help. We’ll send you regular emails containing news and information on our efforts to keep the Sir Max Aitken Pool open and plan for a new Capital Region aquatic facility.