The fate of the Sherbrook Pool is emerging as a key battleground in the city's proposed 2014 budget.
A civic committee reviewed portions of the operating and capital budget Tuesday but for many, the focus was on the 83-year-old pool that closed more than a year ago.
There are no funds in the budget to reopen the pool but several councillors and a community group said the complex plays a vital role in the city's recreational needs and for the residents living in the Daniel McIntyre neighbourhood.
"This pool is valuable and I hope you make sure this pool survives," ward councillor, Harvey Smith, told the committee.
The pool was built in 1930 and has been proposed as a heritage structure. However, engineering concerns with the building's columns prompted the city to close the complex Nov. 29, 2012, out of fear the roof would collapse.
There are conflicting estimates on what it would cost to reopen the pool. An administrative report states $1 million is needed to stabilize the roof-supporting columns but an engineer's report puts the estimate at about half that amount.
The administration estimates the pool would require an additional $5.1 million to ensure its long-term viability; the engineer's report says the pool needs another $949,000 for long-term repairs.
More cost evaluations are being conducted on the facility but a local group, Friends of Sherbrook Pool, believes the pool can be saved at a cost of $2.7 million.
Planning director Barry Thorgrimson said even if the $2.7 million is correct, the city would be left with "an antiquated facility. We believe it will still need significant dollars invested each year to maintain it."
Coun. Jeff Browaty, chairman of the property and development committee, said the administration is building a case to keep the pool closed but added members of executive policy committee haven't yet reached that decision.
The dispute will likely only be resolved by members of EPC, who can muster the needed support on council whatever decision is taken.
The committee endorsed the proposed budget, with only Coun. John Orlikow (River Heights-Fort Garry) voting against it. Couns. Browaty, Thomas Steen (Elmwood-East Kildonan) and Mike Pagtakhan (Point Douglas) supported the budget.
Browaty (North Kildonan) said the city is waiting for the results of a community consultation in Daniel McIntyre before deciding what's the best recreational facility for the community.
"It's a high-demand, high-need area and we want to make sure we're providing the types of recreation that they're likely to use," he said.
Only $600,000 has been put aside in the 2014 capital budget for recreational facilities in the ward. A third of that cash used to be spent on maintaining the pool.
Couns. Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry) and Paula Havixbeck (Charleswood-Tuxedo) said residents in their wards want the Sherbrook pool reopened. They said the city doesn't have trouble finding funds for recreational programming in the suburbs but seems reluctant to invest in badly needed facilities in the inner city.
Last month, Mayor Sam Katz and Coun. Brian Mayes said $3 million was found to rejuvenate a 30-year-old outdoor pool in south St. Vital.