Sauðárkrókur Splashes into the Future with New Pool Expansion

The public pool in Sauðárkrókur

The town of Sauðárkrókur in North Iceland is enhancing its public pool with a new recreational area, including an 11-metre-high water slide and additional facilities. The project is a significant investment expected to become a place of leisure and recreation for both children and adults.

A cornerstone of community life

In Iceland, swimming pools are more than just a place for leisure or exercise. They are a cornerstone of community life, deeply woven into the fabric of Icelandic culture.

Read More: Pooling Together (A Deep Dive into Iceland’s Swimming Culture)

This being the case, residents of the town of Sauðárkrókur in North Iceland are understandably excited about the construction of a new recreational area next to the town’s swimming pool, which, at 70 years old, bears the mark of time. 

The forthcoming recreational area will enhance the current facilities — which currently comprise an outdoor pool, two hot tubs, and a plastic vat for soaking in cold water — with several water slides, including a notable 11-metre-high slide. Work on the expansion began in January of 2021.

Listen to Our Podcast: Listen to Iceland Review’s Podcast on Swimming Pool Culture in Iceland

“This recreational area is designed for both children and adults, serving as a kind of comfort zone. Our plans include constructing an 11-metre-high slide tower, complemented by approximately three to four water slides. Additionally, we will introduce a pool for swimming instruction, massage tubs, and a cold tub, alongside the current pool and tubs. It represents a substantial expansion of our facilities,” Ingvar Páll Ingvarsson, project manager with the Municipality of Skagafjörður, stated in an interview with Vísir yesterday.

“I believe it will be magnificent. Once the tower is up, it will be a major landmark,” Ingvar Páll added. 

At a considerable cost

The mayor is equally excited: “We’ve been waiting a long time for this, and as you can see, it’s just a splendid project that we look forward to inaugurating,” Sigfús Ingi Sigfússon, Mayor of Skagafjörður, told Vísir.

When asked about the total cost of the project, Sigfús Ingi admitted that the renovations came at a considerable cost: “Yes, the cost is considerable. In total, from start to finish, including a complete overhaul of the old swimming pool and building, around ISK 1.4 billion [$10.2 million/€9.3 million],” Sigfús Ingi stated.

The mayor hopes that the residents and visitors of the area won’t have to wait much longer for the new swimming pool area to open, although he does not want to specify any month or date in this regard.

Plans for the new recreational area at the public pool in Sauðárkrókur

Slaughtering Season Off to Uncertain Start

Icelandic sheep

The slaughtering season has begun in Sauðarkrókur in Northwest Iceland, RÚV reports, but uncertainty about meat prices has many farmers concerned about their earnings in the coming months.

Those who hold slaughtering licenses set the prices at which meat will be bought from producers each season. But although the slaughtering season is underway or about to begin in most places, license holders still have not announced what purchase prices will be this year. At the beginning of August, the National Association of Sheep Farmers demanded an increase of 132 krónur [$0.96; €0.81] per kilo on last year’s prices, which averaged ISK 600 [$4.35; €3.86] a kilo. Lamb and mutton prices in Iceland have not kept pace with those on the international market and are, in fact, the lowest in Europe. Slaughter license holders are not required to abide by a set reference price but are instead, free to set prices as they see fit at all stages.

“There’s a great deal of uncertainty about this because of COVID,” remarks Unnsteinn Snorri Snorrason, director of the National Association of Sheep Farmers. This is, he continues, both a function of uncertainty about the status of the market as well as how the slaughtering season will fare with staffing shortages in the industry.

Slaughterhouses have predominantly been staffed by foreign workers in recent years, but bringing in workers from abroad is more difficult now during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Finding Icelandic workers for slaughterhouses has proved equally difficult. Thus, these staffing shortages could easily delay the slaughter this year.

See Also: Without Foreign Workers, Slaughterhouses Face Staffing Shortages

“I think people are operating on the assumption that things won’t be as efficient as usual and maybe it’s for the best that people are taking longer,” Unnstein says. “It’s necessary to train staff and get a routine in place … But we don’t have as many of the key people needed to make this happen as we usually do.”

Unnsteinn says that the lamb stock is essentially what it was last year, and although there are fewer tourists coming to the country right now, he doesn’t see this as a reason for lamb production to contract any further than it already has.

“Maybe it’s not a direct result of [fewer tourists], but of course, this has an effect on the market in some way,” he explains. “We also have an opportunity to increase exports, but first and foremost, we need to see higher meat prices. If we don’t see those, then we won’t see an increase in production—rather, we’ll see a contraction in production across the board.”

Still, there is enough demand for prime cuts of lamb on the domestic market, Unnsteinn asserts, “[e]specially now that we’ve considerably reduced production. Just looking at lamb meat, we’ve cut down by some 1100 tons in just a few years. Our biggest market is the domestic one and it has been fairly stable comparatively. We’re getting good results from the foreign markets we’re building, though. And you can’t forget that part of what we’re exporting are inexpensive cuts that we don’t have a market for here in Iceland.”

Sizable Sea-Cliff Chunk Collapses into Ocean

This weekend, a sizable chunk of the Ketubjörg sea cliffs collapsed into the ocean, MBL reports. The Ketubjörg cliffs are situated on the Skagi peninsula in North Iceland (just north of Sauðárkrókur). “I could hardly believe my eyes,” Ingólfur Sveinsson, resident of the Skagi peninsula, stated in a conversation with Morgunblað yesterday.

In 2015, following an ice clog in a nearby stream, rerouted water subsequently slipped through the cliff’s porous tuff. Since then, a chunk of the cliffs by Innri Bjargavík had slowly broken away and had begun standing on its own (see above photograph). The cleft between the cliff and the chunk widened and had grown to approximately three metres (the chunk is estimated to have been approximately 65 metres tall). After the collapse, a 20-metre high heap of rock and earth can be seen beneath the cliffs.

“I make regular trips to Skagi from Sauðárkrókur to monitor the Ketubjörg cliffs,” Ingólfur stated. The exact time of the collapse is unknown; although the cliff was still standing Friday afternoon, seismometres in Hraun in Skagi – nine kilometres from Ketubjörg – detected disturbances around noon on Saturday. “It’s quite unbelievable,” Elvar Már Jóhannsson, an amateur photographer from Sauðárkrókur said, who visited Ketubjörg yesterday.

For the sake of public safety, local police will continue to monitor the situation in Ketubjörg. According to Ingólfur Sveinsson, the cliffs are still a hazard to the public given that there are still visible cracks in the cliffs.

Three Cruise Ships to Dock in Skagafjörður Next Summer

Three cruise ships are expected to call on the port of Sauðárkrókur (Skagafjörður) next summer, RÚV reports. A total of 10 cruise ships have scheduled calls to the port in the future. Major improvements to the harbour have been made in the past years.

Since 2015, the catch is up by 20% per year in Sauðárkrókur, most of which is processed in Sauðárkrókur or shipped for processing elsewhere (a portion is also sold at the local fish market).

“FISK Seafood has seen an increase in its catch and Dögun’s shrimp-processing plant is expanding. More and more, boats from other harbours have been unloading here, as well,” Dagur Þór Baldvinsson, Port Director Skagafjarðarhafnir (Ports of Skagafjörður) stated.

In order to meet the increased demand, the municipality of Skagafjörður is currently updating its land-use plan. President of the Regional Council, Stefán Vagn Stefánsson, celebrates this increased activity, as it is important for the municipality to receive revenue from the harbour fund. The municipality must play its cards right to guarantee increased growth.

Asked whether the port was capable of receiving large cruise ships, Stefánsson replied, “We believe so. There are three ships scheduled next year and a total of ten ships are planning to call on the port over the next few years.”

Larger cruise ships will anchor outside the harbour, to begin with. The municipality plans on improving the port in order to accommodate larger cruise ships. The exact cost of such an upgrade remains unknown. Access to electricity must also be ensured.

“It’s one of our bigger projects … and there are, as the media has noted, environmental considerations, as well. To ensure that the ships have access to electricity in ports around the country. We will certainly try. Conducting electricity to the port in Sauðárkrókur has proven a challenge. There is no electricity security, so to speak. We’re working on laying an underground cable from Varmahlíð to Sauðárkrókur as we speak. That will hopefully solve the problem,” Stefánson said.











Police Dogs Attend Training in North Iceland

K9 sniffer dogs

Icelandic police are currently training a new generation of sniffer dogs, RÚV reports. While there are currently seven detection dogs in use across the country, many of them are approaching retirement age. In order to renew the ranks, a new group of K9 recruits and their human partners are attending a course in Sauðárkrókur, Northwest Iceland.

It’s the first course of its kind held in Iceland in five years. Steinar Gunnarsson, head of police dog training, says that is about to change, as the course will be held yearly from now on. He hopes that within two years, every police division in the country will have at least one canine helper. London’s Metropolitan Police Service will perform quality control to ensure the dogs are at their best.

Craig Calthorpe, a dog trainer from the UK who was teaching at the course, had good things to say about Iceland’s four-legged detectives-in-training. “The dogs are focused, they’re concentrated, they’ve got a nice amount of drive, their enthusiasm to search is really good,” he stated.

Snjólaug Eyrún Guðmundsdóttir, a police officer from East Iceland, is attending the course alongside Bylur, who she got paired with last November. Snjólaug says the training is going well. The partnership extends beyond the office, she explains, as K9 officers live at home with their human partners. “He’s just a part of my home and is just like another child,” Snjólaug stated. “We go to work together and spend the day together, and all our free time too, it’s just great.”