Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sherbrook Pool gets reprieve

City rearranges cash to save beloved facility

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Public consultations revealed strong community support for Sherbrook Pool, and councillors heard that message from constituents.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

Public consultations revealed strong community support for Sherbrook Pool, and councillors heard that message from constituents. Photo Store

There's still some life left in the city's oldest pool.

Enough funds were shuffled around in the city's proposed budget by Mayor Sam Katz and his executive policy committee to ensure Sherbrook Pool will reopen.

Finance chairman Russ Wyatt said public consultations revealed how valued the pool is to the local community

"What you see here (in the budget changes) is a reflection of that," Wyatt (Transcona) said. "The old can be made good again and it's possible to reinvest and get some more years from that facility."

The pool reopening was one of several minor changes Katz and his EPC made to the proposed 2014 budget, which will go to a special meeting of council Tuesday for approval.

'The community will be very, very happy' -- ward councillor Harvey Smith

The 83-year-old Sherbrook Pool was unexpectedly closed Nov. 29, 2012 as a safety precaution after city officials became concerned columns supporting the roof were insecure and the building's roof could collapse.

Public campaigns were launched by a local swimming club and Friends of Sherbrook Pool, which raises funds to ensure free swimming lessons for neighbourhood children and was also preparing to examine the possibility of upgraded amenities for the facility.

"The community will be very, very happy," said ward councillor Harvey Smith, who has been a strong advocate for civic reinvestment in the inner city.

There were conflicting reports on what it would take to reopen the pool. Earlier administration estimates placed the total cost at just over $5 million -- a figure the Friends group hotly contested.

Katz confirmed $1 million would be needed to stabilize the columns and install a new roof, with another $1.98 million needed to update the mechanical, heating and electrical systems.

The proposed budget amendments redirect a total of $1.671 million in existing funds to the pool project, with $600,000 being set aside for an unspecified recreational facility likely to replace the pool.

Katz said the remaining funds would likely be coming from the province and a private donation.

Katz said Friday all the necessary work would be completed before the pool is reopened.

Smith is providing almost $600,000 of the city's investment in the pool through recreation funds he controls in his ward.

Other city councillors, including Paula Havixbeck (Charleswood-Tuxedo), Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry) and John Orlikow (River Heights-Fort Garry), appealed to EPC to reopen the pool, stating many residents of their wards used it.

Marianne Cerilli, president of the board of Friends of Sherbrook Pool, said she also was happy with EPC's funding commitment.

"I'm really pleased they amended the budget... and get the repairs started," said Cerilli, who made several appeals to EPC and civic standing committees to get the pool reopened.

Cerilli said she's eager to learn the identity of a private donor who will make a contribution.

At committee hearings, the civic administration opposed spending any money on the facility, believing it was too old and underused.

However, Katz said community consultations in the Daniel McIntyre ward found local residents wanted it reopened.

Friends of Sherbrook Pool said the facility was used by residents across the city, many seeking its soothing waters -- kept several degrees warmer than other civic pools.

Cerilli and Smith said public attention focused on the pool will likely result in more people using it.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 14, 2013 A8

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