WHERE’S THE POOL?
City councillors resoundingly object to a consultant’s report on redeveloping Germain Park without an outdoor public pool.
“I don’t like the fact here is no pool and I’m not crazy about the Multi Use Recreation Facility (MURF)…at this location,” Coun. Anne Marie Gillis told Steve Langois on Monteith Brown.
Coun. Bill Dennis said he’s heard from many residents about the proposal and more than 90% were negative.
“The bottom line is that the community wants an outdoor pool,” Dennis said. A petition from the Save the Jackson Pool committee has over 2,000 signatures, he added.
Several councillors noted that the proposal involves removing two baseball diamonds to accommodate a MURF. Sarnia already has too few diamonds, said Coun. Brian White. “I will not support removing two ball diamonds in favour of a MURF.”
City CAO Chris Carter pointed out that grant money of about $1.4 million is available for an inground pool similar to the aging one the city removed from Germain Park a few years ago. To build a new one will cost $5 million – $6 million, Carter said. Operating costs will be another $200,000 a year.
Sarnians are passionate about Germain Park, said Gillis. It’s a 60 acre (24 hectare) park in the centre of the city and full of amenities including ball and soccer fields, a playground, off-leash dog park, green space, community gardens and more.
“I know these things (a pool and splashpad) are quite expensive, but considering this is a public park that’s been a jewel for the community for so long, a pool is a must,” she said.
Coun. Terry Burrell’s motion to add a pool, delete the MURF and maintain all baseball diamonds was unanimously supported by council.
The consultant will revise the concept drawings and return to council for input.
Mayor Mike Bradley said two groups have said they may chip in financially to pay for Germain Park’s makeover.
“I do want to remind everyone, it all will come down to money in the end,” he said.
SPEAKING OF POOLS, CITY HAS A DEAL WITH THE Y
The city is entering a five-year agreement with the Jerry McCaw Family Centre (YMCA) to operate Tecumseh Pool, the city’s only outdoor public pool.
The Y took over operations last summer and resumed swimming lessons and open swims after the pandemic interruption.
Last summer was a pilot project, said the Y’s Joe Cebulski. “We are extremely excited by the results.”
The Y anticipates about 350 children will take swimming lessons for $45 a session this summer. Last year, 8,700 enjoyed open swims and even more are anticipated this year at a charge of $2 per participant. The Y will also offer aquafit for $2.
Those prices are locked in until 2027 and apply seven days a week. Depending on the availability of lifeguards, Y officials said they will extend weekend hours and avoid “heat stress” service suspensions when the public wants to cool off the most.
HUMANE SOCIETY CAN’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT VET SHORTAGE
It’s no surprise but Coun. George Vandenberg reported that the humane society’s board of directors talked at length about Sarnia’s after hours vet shortage and concluded it is not their business.
“While the board is very sympathetic with the after hours issue, we leave private business to operate as they see fit,” he said.
Five city parks will receive playground upgrades this year after council approved a tender from Park N Play for $360,000.
The five getting new equipment are: Cardiff Park ($51,000); Lansdowne Park ($52,000); Agincourt Park ($47,000); Retlaw Park ($57,000) and Newton Park ($152,000).
FOOD FOR ALL
At Coun. Brian White’s suggestion, the city will spend $10,000 a year to plant fruit-bearing trees and bushes so the public can help themselves.
“The idea is to create areas in our community where people can just pick food; fruit, berries, walnuts, strawberries, that kind of thing,” said White.
Fruit trees were planted in Mike Weir Park for the same purpose years ago but no one ever picked the apples and pears, said Coun. Anne Marie Gillis.
“But we’ve done it before and we can do it again,” she said.
White’s original idea was to spend $5,000 but Coun. Chrissy McRoberts urged council to double that, which they unanimously did.
NEW DUC OWNERS HAVE WATERFRONT MOORING
Sarnia’s popular cruise boat has new ownership and a new agreement with the city to dock at the waterfront.
The Duc D’Orleans will be docked in its usual spot along Centennial Park and pay $7,239.65 in keeping with the previous agreement. The deal includes a 3% annual increase.
The Duc has plied the waters around Sarnia – and made live band cruises a beloved pastime – for the past 44 years.
TWO CITIZENS’ PROPOSALS TO SLOW TRAFFIC
Robert Dickieson laid out a thorough plan to get rid of speeders in central Sarnia and council agreed to investigate further.
Dickieson wants a review of the entire Brock and Vidal corridor, two streets that he called “overbuilt” for the amount of traffic they convey. Both are one way streets that have become “racetracks” and need to be redesigned so that residents can have quiet enjoyment of their properties, said Dickieson.
“This area of the city has a high density of heritage buildings and, by having high speed roads, we completely devalue these heritage buildings,” he told council.
Among other things, he wants Brock and Vidal to become two-way streets.
Meanwhile, council directed staff to report back by this summer on what can be done to make the intersection of Brock and George safer.
After that, a more complex analysis of what can be done for the entire corridor will be considered when council deliberates its 2024 budget.
Dickieson’s presentation was followed by one from London Road resident Paul Stevens who suggested that photo radar would slow traffic in his area.
Police on traffic patrol can never hand out enough tickets to justify their time, Stevens said.
Coun. George Vandenberg liked the photo radar concept but Coun. Terry Burrell said he can’t justify tying up staff time based on the opinion of two people.
Dickieson added that he’d like to reduce traffic to 20 km/hr in the downtown core and make Christina and Front streets one-way.
Mayor Bradley warned that would open up a “hornet’s nest” among downtown merchants.
Scott Burnett, president and executive director of Super Ninja Obstacle Course Racing Club located in the Lochiel Kiwanis Centre, has a big problem with how lease agreements are negotiated for city-owned buildings.
Burnett described in detail the research he’s done to try to uncover how Bluewater Gymnastics has rented a city-owned facility for what Burnett says is 635% lower rate than his club.
He accused the city of “unethical and unacceptable accounting practices” that “bother him immensely.”
Coun. Bill Dennis’ request for a staff report on Burnett’s complaint was supported by council.