Swimming season is just around the corner but Sarnia still hasn’t made a decision on the future of Jackson pool.
Parks and recreation director Rob Harwood told city council last week a report on the future of the 50-year-old pool, once expected last fall, will be coming in the next couple of months.
The pool, which was closed all last summer, requires major reconstruction and upgrades to meet today’s building codes and accessibility requirements, Harwood told The Journal.
Asked if it’s salvageable, he replied: “With an enormous amount of work, yes. Not only is the liner shot … but there’s also some serious damage to the actual area that surrounds the pool underneath the decks.”
An early estimate found at least $167,000 was needed to get the pool back in service.
“It has served us greatly for a great number of years, with limited repairs along the way. Staff did a great job of maintaining it,” Harwood said.
“It’s just that now it’s at a point where it’s past its life cycle.”
The possibility Jackson Pool may never reopen is upsetting to residents like Richard Trusler, who once lived in the neighbourhood of the East Street facility.
“That’s not too much money, even by today’s standard, to fix a problem,” he said.
“What’s next for that area of Sarnia? We cannot afford to lose another piece of vital infrastructure.”
After Jackson was closed last summer it forced some parents and children to wait in long lineups elsewhere to cool off. Tecumseh Pool, Sarnia’s only other outdoor public pool, had to turn people away at times.
Meanwhile, the cash-strapped city is beginning a process of reviewing all publicly owned assets — including parkland — that might be declared surplus and sold to the highest bidder.
Trusler said the threatened loss of Jackson pool is part of a larger trend he finds disturbing.
“They’re not seeing the big picture and they’re just thinking, ‘immediate problem.’ And once they get over the immediate problem we’ll be in even worse shape,” he said.
“If we get rid of things, what do we have to replace them?”
But according to Harwood, usage at Jackson pool was already in steady decline prior to it closure.
“Demographics are changing, so the demand for that pool is much less than it was originally now that we have other public pool options in the city,” he said.