AMID calls to reopen Sherbrook Pool as soon as possible, council's property committee voted Tuesday to launch public consultations this summer to determine the pool's fate.
If West End residents demand the city fix the 82-year-old pool instead of rebuilding it, repairs could mean the heritage building won't reopen until the end of next year.
Last week, city staff revealed it would cost $2.6 million now to shore up the pool's corroded roof columns and fix old heating, cooling and electrical systems. Another $3.5 million in maintenance is needed over the next two decades, raising the question whether it makes better sense to build new, especially since those cost estimates are very preliminary and could increase.
Following Tuesday's meeting, Coun. Jeff Browaty, who chairs the property committee, said it might make sense to set aside nostalgia and spend $15 or $20 million on a new pool that could better serve a high-needs neighbourhood. "I want to do what's right for the community," he said.
But several seniors told city councillors Tuesday Sherbrook Pool represents a unique facility that is vital to the health of many Winnipeggers and helps strengthen the social fabric of the neighbourhood. They asked councillors to do what's needed now to open the pool, while doing broad consultations on the neighbourhood's recreation needs afterwards.
"First let's get it safely open, and then let's plan for the future," said Marianne Cerilli, chairwoman of the Friends of the Sherbrook Pool.
The city expects to do broad consultations with the neighbourhood about its recreation needs. A report should be ready by the end of the year.
Several seniors said the pool's warm water, proper stairs instead of ladders and gradual slope into the deep end made it perfect for those with arthritis, multiple sclerosis and other ailments. They estimated at least 70 people attended classes two or three times a week, and were left with few exercise options when Sherbrook closed in November.
"We're not just a bunch of little old ladies splashing around in the pool," said Peggy Day, whose hip replacement curtailed a very active life. "It's central to the health of many people."