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It’s back to the drawing board for Jackson Pool site

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Troy Shantz

Sarnia councillors say they want more input from the public before deciding the fate of Jackson Pool.

A June 17 staff report had proposed replacing the 51-year-old swimming pool with a splash pad and multi-purpose gathering place.

A splash pad costing $275,000 to $375,000 to build would be cheaper to operate and could be used by more people more months of the year, the report noted.

By consolidating swim programs at Tecumseh Pool after Jackson closed in 2015 the city is saving more than $50,000 a year.

Repairing Jackson Pool itself would cost $581,000, and upgrading the rest of the facility to meet current standard would probably require $1 million, said parks and recreation director Rob Harwood.

Coun. Cindy Scholten said residents have made it clear they want a swimming pool on East Street.

“Do I think the gathering place is a good idea? Yes I do,” she said. “But I don’t think this is what the people of Sarnia want at this time.”

Scholten also noted community fundraising and private sponsorship could make a pool affordable.

Coun. Brian White acknowledged the neighbourhoods around Jackson Pool have fewer children then they once did.

But economic factors could make them attractive to young families again and validate the need for a public pool there, he said.

Coun. Bev MacDougall noted the YMCA pool is only at 45% usage capacity, and Tecumseh Pool is less than two kilometres away from Jackson.

“If we’re going to look at things we should look at all things here, and not limit ourselves to a demographic that’s moved away,” she said.

Daniel Harding, who is part of a grassroots initiative trying to save Jackson Pool, said he’s encouraged council wants more time and information to decide. He said pledges of support have increased, and are even coming from outside Sarnia.

Harding said he’s confident his group can raise the money needed for the pool, even with a splash pad. But people want assurances it will be maintained going forward.

“They just want the trust back in the community that if you’re going to donate something to the city they’re not going to let it fall apart,” he said.

Staff has asked to staff report this fall containing various options for the East Street site.

 

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