The fate of the Sherbrook Pool has pitted the civic administration against a community group and several councillors.
The administration questions the value of spending scarce dollars on what they call an underused and antiquated facility -- but others argue the pool is needed in the community and the area is in need of recreational services.
The dispute will likely be resolved only by members of Mayor Sam Katz’s executive policy committee, who can muster the needed support on council, whatever decision is taken.
"It’s a high-demand, high-need area and we want to make sure we’re providing the types of recreation that they’re likely to use," Coun. Jeff Browaty, a member of EPC and chair of the property and development committee, said this morning.
The committee was reviewing portions of the proposed 2014 operating and capital budgets.
Browaty said city officials are waiting the outcome of a community consultation process on recreational needs in the Daniel McIntyre ward before deciding the fate of the pool.
The 83-year-old Sherbrook Pool was unexpectedly closed Nov. 29, 2012, as a safety precaution after city officials were concerned columns supporting the roof were insecure and the roof could collapse.
There have been conflicting reports on what it would take to reopen the pool.
An administrative report states it would cost $1 million to stabilize the roof-supporting column, but an engineer’s report puts the estimate at about half that amount.
The administration estimates the pool would require an additional $5.1 million to ensure long-term viability; the engineer’s report says the pool needs another $949,000 for long-term repairs.
Councillors Paula Havixbeck, Jenny Gerbasi and Harvey Smith urged the property and development committee to find the money necessary to reopen the pool, pointing out Katz and his EPC members had no trouble finding funds for recreational projects in suburban parts of the city.
The community group Friends of Sherbrook Pool also advocated for money to save the facility. The group argues the money required to repair the facility is an affordable investment in the low-income families, at-risk youth, seniors and immigrants that would benefit from its use.
Browaty told reporters after the meeting that the pool might not be in the city’s future, but no decision has been made. However, he added that the area is in need of recreational facilities and money will be found once it’s been determined what is needed.
"In my mind it’s not about the dollars," Browaty said. "It’s about making sure we have the right amenity for that neighbourhood.... I believe when we get there, the money will be there to do this."