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Sherbrook Pool revived

Mayor says $2.8M to fix it easy to find

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Karla Dueck Thiessen and her Sherbrook Sharks Swim Club outside the closed pool. She’s thrilled at city hall’s move to repair and reopen it.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Karla Dueck Thiessen and her Sherbrook Sharks Swim Club outside the closed pool. She’s thrilled at city hall’s move to repair and reopen it. Photo Store

Sherbrook Pool is back in the swim of things after Mayor Sam Katz publicly pledged Wednesday the pool will be fixed and reopened next year.

The 83-year-old pool was closed more than a year ago due to structural problems and safety concerns. It has been idle ever since, awaiting repairs. Pool users had to travel to the Cindy Klassen Recreation Complex on Sargent Avenue or not swim at all if they didn't have transportation or couldn't afford it.

Katz said the approximately $2.8 million needed to refurbish the pool and make it safe can easily be found, adding he expects repairs will get underway next year.

"I believe we can get that Sherbrook Pool opened, I truly believe that," Katz said after the executive policy committee (EPC) meeting Wednesday.

Katz said it would cost about $1 million to stabilize the columns that support the roof and provide a new roof and $1.8 million more to upgrade the facility's heating, mechanical and electrical systems.

The mayor and EPC have been criticized because no funds for the Sherbrook Pool were allotted in the 2014 budget.

The city proceeded last month with community consultations to determine the recreational needs in the Daniel McIntyre ward, where the pool is located. Public meetings were held Nov. 14 and 18 and a Probe Research poll was conducted, including interviews with 20 community stakeholders, eight focus groups and a phone survey of 400 residents. The poll results, expected this week, have not been made public.

"They've pre-empted their report from the consultations, which weren't really about the pool anyway, so we're pretty thrilled to have the mayor make a commitment to find the full $2.8 million to fix and reopen the pool and we're going to buy him some new swim trunks and give him some new goggles," said Marianne Cerilli, chairwoman of the Friends of Sherbrook Pool (FOSP), a community group dedicated to preserving the pool.

The city administration appeared opposed to reopening the pool, believing it would be a wasted investment in an antiquated and under-used facility. However, Katz said Wednesday it's clear the area residents want it reopened.

He said just because the money wasn't allocated in the budget doesn't mean it's not available.

"Sometimes people have concerns because they don't have all the facts," he said. "There's more money in there, don't worry.

"Sometimes you have to get creative... I think there are a couple of creative ways to accomplish this."

Cerilli said the FOSP are suggesting Daniel McIntyre Coun. Harvey Smith make a motion, seconded by Katz, at the Dec. 17 council meeting to have the $2.8 million officially noted in the budget as earmarked for the Sherbrook Pool.

"There's going to be a lot of really excited seniors who rely on the warm water of the pool, a lot of kids who have taken their swimming lessons there and want to go back to swimming lessons. The Sherbrook Sharks will get their home back and we can reopen the Sunday swimming for the Muslim women and all the folks that use the pool for fitness and lap swimming. It's just great news," Cerilli said.

Sherbrook Sharks Swim Club president Karla Dueck Thiessen said it's "exciting news" for the group, which lost 40 per cent of its swimmers in the past year, mostly due to economic barriers to travelling to the alternate pool.

"I'm ecstatic and I know our swimmers will be so happy to hear that they can go back to their home pool. We've kind of lost our identity with the move (to the Cindy Klassen pool) and the close of the Sherbrook Pool. It's going to be good to get back into home waters," she said.

The building was declared a heritage building in 2001.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 5, 2013 A3

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