A community partner's gift has secured the reopening of a pool that means so much to its neighbourhood.
The Kinsmen Club of Winnipeg has pledged $1 million to assist in the renovation of the 83-year-old Sherbrook Pool, which has been closed since Nov. 29, 2012, due to structural problems and safety concerns.
In his state of the city address last week, Mayor Sam Katz announced the Kinsmen's $1-million contribution and the $1.7 million from the City of Winnipeg's 2014 budget will be applied to the repairs, estimated at $2.8 million.
"We're thinking that this is going to do it, based on the original (engineer's) report from last July," said Marianne Cerilli, chairwoman of the Friends of Sherbook Pool organization. "We are incredibly appreciative of the Kinsmen Club for stepping up in this way, and we really feel like now the work can begin because they (the city) have the money they need to do the repairs to make the building safe to open."
Work on the pool is expected to begin as soon as the city reviews tenders for the project.
Cerilli said the corroded parts of the support beams and columns will be replaced to stabilize the roof and the building, the pool deck will be repaired and upgrades will be made to the water-filtration and treatment system as well as the building's HVAC systems (heating, ventilation and air conditioning).
"We're still optimistic that the work can be done this year and we are still hoping the pool can be opened in 2015," Cerilli said.
The remaining 28 members of the Sherbrook Sharks swim club have been travelling to the Cindy Klassen Recreation Complex on Sargent Avenue, though 40 per cent of the club's membership has been lost since the Sherbrook Pool closed. Many lacked the means or resources for transportation to a pool outside the neighbourhood.
The Friends of Sherbrook Pool are subsidizing swimming lessons for community families willing and able to travel to the Eldon Ross Pool in the Weston area.
City administration had initially opposed spending money on the pool, suggesting it was too old and underused.
However, the Friends of Sherbrook Pool, the Sherbrook Sharks and a group of senior citizens along with other Sherbrook Pool users participated in public campaigns to fix the pool and keep it open. Community consultations conducted by the city in the Daniel McIntyre ward last November found people in the area wanted the pool to reopen.
"We're just so happy and grateful," said Karla Dueck Thiessen, Sherbrook Sharks president. "It speaks really loudly that when community groups work together, we can accomplish a lot. We teach our kids not to give up and to persevere, even when things look hopeless and times are tough. Especially our kids that come from challenging homes, that lesson hits home when they see this positive outcome."
A press release from the City of Winnipeg stated the pool will be known as the Kinsmen Sherbrook Pool through a sponsorship agreement to acknowledge the group's contribution.
"We are looking forward to the grand reopening of the Kinsmen Sherbrook Pool and seeing the swimmers of all ages return to this historic building," Raj Phangureh, the Kinsmen Club of Winnipeg president, said in a statement.
-- with files from Aldo Santin