Troy Shantz & George Mathewson
City council has deferred its decision on Jackson Pool until next year, when a master plan will be created outlining future parks and recreational needs.
Public consultations found that residents want a new municipal pool built to replace Jackson, which has been closed since 2015 because of structural problems.
About 56% of those who completed surveys said they favoured a new pool for the East Street site, while 34% liked the proposed alternative — a splash pad and community gathering place.
But staff continue to point out problems with the new pool concept, including higher costs, lack of demand for swim programs, and a shortage of certified lifeguards.
“I think that the pool as it is right now is dead,” said Coun. Cindy Scholten, who voted to defer the decision. “I feel like if we support this motion then we are still giving it a chance.”
Coun. Anne Marie Gillis said the Jackson Pool site could offer so much more than it did.
“I think we need the opportunity to explore that,” she said.
Councillors Matt Mitro and Bev MacDougall also voted to add the pool’s fate to a parks and recreation master plan.
Councillors Brian White, Dave Boushy and Andy Bruziewicz voted no; Mayor Mike Bradley and Coun. Mike Kelch were absent.
In a report, city staff said they don’t anticipate any increase in demand for swimming programs, and suggested more public swim times could be added at Tecumseh pool. Opening a separate entrance to Tecumseh’s splash pad would allow people to bypass the pool and reduce pressure on its capacity of 209 bathers, staff said.
Despite those objections, an “overwhelming majority of citizens” want their pool back, said Michelle White Parks, a member of the Save Jackson Pool committee.
That was confirmed as well by a 2,000-name petition she and other pool supporters delivered to council in October.
“I’m trying to remain positive,” she said. “I guess moving forward I have to support what they have done, and hopefully help with the implementation of the parks and recreation master plan.”
The city is already seeking feedback for the plan, which will create a policy framework to manage and develop city parks, beaches, trails, events, programs and cultural opportunities for the next decade.
The survey is available online at https://parksandrec.smartsarnia.com/
and in person at City Hall.
Residents have been given only until Dec. 8 to complete the survey.
The results will be shared with a consulting firm hired to complete the document.