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Sherbrook Pool might stay afloat

EPC allots $200K for repairs

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Winnipeg politicians have thrown the Sherbrook Pool a life-preserver.

On Wednesday, council's executive policy committee voted to allot $200,000 for repairs to the inner-city facility as part of their amendments to this year's capital and operating budgets.

The move came after several councillors, pool patrons and former Olympians urged the city to include money to fix the facility in the 2013 budget.

The Friends of Sherbrook Pool board chairwoman Marianne Cerilli said the funding is a good start, but she is concerned it may not be enough, as no one knows how much it will cost to fix the facility.

The city closed the Sherbrook Pool in late November after inspectors discovered corrosion on 10 pillars supporting the roof. City officials said the pool's superintendent initially noticed paint peeling on the concrete tiles encasing the pillars and an engineer found corrosion hidden beneath the tiles.

A facility-condition report reveals parts of the Sherbrook Pool have deteriorated to the point they have been deemed antiquated or beyond their "useful life."

"We don't know how far (the money) goes," Cerilli said. "They're saying the big problem now is corrosion of the main pillars. That sounds pretty expensive to me."

Finance committee chairman Coun. Russ Wyatt (Transcona) said there is no estimate of how much it will cost to repair the Sherbrook Pool, and officials are awaiting a report on it.

He said the mayor decided to devote $200,000 of the civic initiatives budget to the inner-city facility after Daniel McIntyre Coun. Harvey Smith suggested such an amount would "get the ball rolling."

Ideally, Wyatt said the city wants to see the pool reopen.

"That's obviously not going to be enough, but the fact is it shows the commitment by the mayor," Smith said of the funding.

Executive policy committee also voted to partially restore funding cuts to museums. The committee approved a reduction for an EPC policy and communications office from $722,000 to $579,136 in order to devote an additional $56,147 toward city museums so their budgets will be cut by only five per cent instead of 10 per cent.

Local museums initially decried the proposed 10 per cent budget cut, saying it will have a huge impact and could result in the loss of services to the public, including reduced operating hours and staff.

Remaining funds from the policy office reduction, along with savings from the amount earmarked for hiring new permit staff and pro-rating term staff, will go to an additional $340,000 for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy to meet increasing labour and utility costs.

City of Winnipeg museums board chairman William Dowie said he's encouraged partial funding may be restored. He said his organization plans to educate city council on the importance of arts and culture, and the city should look at other ways to stabilize the sector.

EPC did not recommend any changes to councillors' discretionary ward budgets, which are set to rise to $114,000 from about $74,000.

Wyatt said council's governance committee initially requested a $50,000 increase, and the additional $40,000 in funding will help elected officials respond to their constituents and do their work.

The committee shot down four motions by Coun. Paula Havixbeck (Charleswood-Tuxedo), including a call to restore full funding to museums, cancel the operational review of the Winnipeg Police Service and cancel funding for an EPC policy office and additional spending on councillors' ward budgets.

Havixbeck said she's disappointed, since the measures could have resulted in significant savings and reduced the property-tax burden on residents.

City council will vote on the amended 2013 capital and operating budgets at a meeting Tuesday.

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca

How EPC tweaked city's 2013 budgets

Changes proposed by council's executive policy committee on Wednesday:

Allot $200,000 from the mayor's civic initiatives account toward repairs to the Sherbrook Pool.

Reduce funding for an EPC policy and communications office by $142,864. Use a portion of the reduction, $56,147, to partially restore funding to museums and devote the remainder to the Assiniboine Park Conservancy.

Restore partial funding to museums to reduce their budget cuts to five per cent from 10 per cent.

Spend $340,000 on the Assiniboine Park Conservancy to meet increasing labour and utility costs. Use cost savings from the amount earmarked for hiring new permit staff and pro-rating term staff to help pay for it.

Spend an additional $1.9 million on a Dutch elm disease strategy regardless whether the province will contribute matching funds.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 24, 2013 A3

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