With the swimming pool in St. Davids in such poor condition it might not last the summer, councillors have agreed to spend up to $100,000 to immediately hire a consultant to work on a plan for the park.
It could be that with the growing number of families in St. Davids a new pool is warranted, or, councillors heard, it could be a good location for a splash pad.
Coun. Betty Disero said at council Monday she wants to get that discussion started, and made a motion to begin public consultation immediately “to work with the community on a new plan for the park and pool that will meet the community's needs, now and in the future.” She's afraid if the pool has to be closed, residents will think it's “just done.”
However Sheldon Randall, director of operations for the Town of Niagara-on-the- Town, cautioned that “immediately” likely means this fall. “It will be a lengthy process, and it doesn't mean we're building one.”
He also clarified the $100,000 in the 2018 budget would include the consultation process and possibly a design for a new pool or a splash pad.
“If the pool fails, we're not going to have a pool in St. Davids. The cost to replace it is prohibitive,” said Randall.
But there continues to be a desire for a pool in the village, he said. “I think it's a good idea to start the consultation process. That doesn't mean we'll have a pool. It just starts the conversation, which puts us in a better position for grants and funding.”
Coun. Martin Mazza suggested it might be better to evaluate having one pool in NOTL and splash pads in the other communities.
“It seems premature to put that kind of money before the reports come forward telling us whether we need it or not,” but agreed on starting the consultation process.
Coun. Paolo Miele, a strong supporter of an indoor pool, said “it's no big secret – we need a pool. Let's get the consultation going on.”
“But let's look long-term this time. Don't look at a seasonal facility – look at a year-round facility so everyone in NOTL gets to use it.”
Kevin Turcotte, manager of parks and recreation, said there are a number of problems with the aging pool, which should have been fixed years ago. The pump could fail, there could be an issue with excessive water leaking or cracks in old piping, and an assessment of its condition undertaken for the Town's facilities master plan determined it's not worth repairing – it would have to be replaced.
Neither the pool or the change room meet current codes, he said. “They're not even close.”
Turcotte said the Town needs to find out what the community wants – a pool, a splash pad or even both. The consultation process will also provide an opportunity to to talk to members of the St. Davids Lions, who originally built the pool and turned it over to the Town, and to other service groups to talk about fundraising or partnering on the project.
He said he'd like to start engaging the public as soon as possible, probably through Join the Conversation, a section of the Town's website that encourages residents' comments, and to have some community feedback before hiring a consultant.
The St. Davids Pool is not as well-used as the one at Memorial Park, he said, but its use has seen an increase since the growth of housing in the village, and will likely increase even more once a path from the Cannery subdivision to the St. Davids Lions Park is completed, along with other housing developments planned for St. Davids.