A report on the feasibility of an indoor pool in Niagara-on-the-Lake didn't get full-out support, but it's not dead in the water either.
The recommendations of the indoor pool committee, created last summer to gather information, were to include consideration for it in next year's budget; forward the information to a consultant looking at the town's recreational facilities; and disband the committee, whose work is done.
The committee was formed last summer at the request of Coun. Paolo Miele, who made a promise during the 2012 election campaign to look at the possibility of building an indoor pool in NOTL.
The majority of councillors did not support including it in next year's budget, although a four-three vote at Monday's operations committee meeting will allow it to go forward to be looked at as part of the facilities master plan study.
Coun. Jim Collard did not support either recommendation — an indoor pool is too expensive and not supported by residents who don't want to see taxes increase to pay for it, he said.
He called on operations director Sheldon Randall for his opinion, who said the Town can't afford the operating or maintenance costs of an indoor pool.
“Even if we found partners, they're going to want to be paid, plus there's the overhead,” Randall said.
A survey showed 49.3 per cent of residents who responded don't want their taxes to increase because of a pool, Collard pointed out.
“I'm not taking this lightly, and I'm not trying to be mean,” he said. “But I think this is flogging a dead horse and it's time to dismount.”
St. Davids Pool ran at an operational loss of almost $42,000 last summer, and the Niagara-on-the-Lake pool lost more than $65,000, but a questionnaire from the town indicated residents want both pools kept open.
St. Davids pool has reached the end of its life span, and rather than a costly new pool, may be replaced instead by a splash pad, councillors heard.
An indoor pool could cost between $6 million to $12 million to build, with an estimated annual operating cost of between $500,000 and $800,000.
Miele is disappointed it won't make it into next year's budget for consideration. He said although it's a huge expense, there are many cost-saving efficiencies in other areas that council could find, and a number of people supported it.
He said he's pleased at least that an indoor pool will be looked at by the facilities master plan consultant, and could be considered in future years by other councils.
“I was hoping it would go forward for budget consideration,” he said. “But at the end of the day it's going to be a new council that will decide what to do with it.”