The fate of the Four Seasons Leisure Pool will certainly be one of the larger ticket items up for discussion when city council sits down at the budget table February 1.
City council Monday received a report from city manager Kathleen Soltis recommending that council replace the 50-year-old pool with another in the downtown area, at an estimated cost of $35 million. The proposal will now included within the funded portion of the proposed 2017-2021 Capital Plan, to be considered by council during the budget meeting on February 1.
“Everything we’ve talked about over the last year and a half has now arrived,” said Mayor Lyn Hall. We knew we had some big deficit with infrastructure below and above ground. Here we are tonight, a week-and-a-half away from deciding what we’re going to do on a few of our larger assets. It’s a big decision.”
A report, prepared by consultant Dialog and Counsilman-Hunsaker in September gave the city three options to consider, which ranged from simply replacing the Four Seasons Pool, on the low side at $32.9 million, to replacing Four Seasons Pool and upgrading the Aquatic Centre, on the high side at $62.3 million, or leave the Four Seasons Leisure Pool as is and add on to the Aquatic Centre.
“There’s no question to me that the Four Seasons Pool is valued by a lot of people, and valued in the downtown area,” said Coun. Jillian Merrick.
The city will have to borrow money to build a new pool and that will require either a referendum or use of the alternative approval process, which is not favoured by some councillors.
“We knew this was coming, it’s an enormous cost,” said Brian Skakun, suggesting perhaps it be put to a referendum. “I prefer a referendum rather than alternative approval process.”
Coun. Albert Kohler who, at times is lone voice against anything increase in taxes, was resigned to the fact the pool needs replacing.
“Everybody around the table is concerned when we spend $35 million, and so am I,” he said. “It’s very, very difficult to avoid. The Four Seasons Pool is very well used. It needs some replacement, one way or another. I’m concerned about getting us deeper in the hole.”
Currently the city’s debt serving costs are around $15.5 million.