Lord Mayor Betty Disero wants to ensure something good comes of the years of work put into ensuring St. Davids residents have a swimming pool in their community.
At Monday’s planning meeting, she said the town’s St. Davids swimming pool committee has been working hard to determine how to keep the pool going, including repairing it if a new pool is not a possibility.
However, she recently discovered the mandate of the committee is to raise money to replace the pool, not repair it.
The town has already gone through the process of paying for a design and holding meetings for public input — there were two held at the St. Davids Lions Club hall in 2019, with changes made to the design in response to residents’ comments.
The mandate for a new pool makes it complicated to now consider looking at ways to repair it, said Disero, but she has learned of other municipalities using other solutions, such as containers rather than new buildings. “They look amazing,” and they’re a third of the cost, she said, urging councillors to check out projects in Welland and St. Catharines that have gone that route. “Let’s see if we can look outside the box.”
Coun. Gary Burroughs, a member of the pool committee, agreed that although the town has been working toward “this beautiful $5 million pool, without upper-level funding we’ll never be able to afford it, and we’ve had no success so far.”
The town has gone through two rounds of grant applications, with nothing positive to report, he said.
“I thought the upcoming provincial election might loosen the pockets a little bit, but that doesn’t appear to have happened,” said Burroughs.
At the pool committee meetings, members have talked about repairing what’s there, rather than building new, he said.
“It’s time to say without upper-tier funding we can’t replace it. We need another approach.”
Coun. Allan Bisback said he agreed with looking at repairs, but first wanted to hear if town staff thought that would be feasible. Operations manager Sheldon Randall quickly burst the bubble, saying in his opinion it isn’t.
“Personally, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” said Randall, explaining there are a lot of challenges, including accessibility issues, and meeting regional standards for chlorination.
“I think we’d be looking at spending a lot of money to keep it going every year until we come up with a permanent solution,” he said. And repairing the pool is “definitely not part of the facility master plan.”
Burroughs said they were not considering “an ongoing solution to patch it,” but did need to look at options that don’t cost $5 million, “because we are unable to raise that kind of money.”
When Kevin Turcotte, parks and recreation manager, said the fundraising committee had raised about $52,000, Coun. John Wiens, also a member of the committee, said the real work hadn’t yet got started, and that the committee was waiting to hear about a grant before moving forward.
While there are issues with repairing rather than building a new pool, he agreed with changing the terms of reference to allow the committee to look at alternatives, or perhaps, he added, “we keep it going for another year or two, and keep looking for upper-tier funding.”
Although Disero was ready to make a motion to change the mandate of the committee so it could consider repairs an option, town clerk Ralph Walton suggested that since council had already approved the mandate and there is a bylaw to support it, there should be a notice of motion for next week to reconsider council’s decision, and novote was taken.