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Group, councillor push for answers on pool’s closure

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Community groups and city officials continue to meet to address the sudden and abrupt closure of the Sherbrook Pool.

"The lack of information makes people fear the worst," said Coun. Harvey Smith (Daniel McIntyre), who was expecting to meet with the private engineering firm which has been tasked to undertake a structural assessment of the pool.

On Nov. 29, the city abruptly closed the pool after a routine maintenance inspection.

The city has yet to reveal details about the inspection, but Smith said he has been told the 20 pillars supporting the 82-year-old building’s roof are badly eroded.

Smith is hoping to learn this week how long the pool will remain closed.

In the meantime, the city has moved the majority of Sherbrook’s fall swimming lessons to other pools, but winter programs will not be offered.

Friends of Sherbrook Pool, which has raised millions of dollars to help the city rehabilitate the pool in the past, met with civic officials last week to discuss programming alternatives.

President John Hutton said the group is unsure if it can transfer its programming — which includes free swimming lessons for about 130 kids — because many people who use the pool don’t have a car or easy access to transportation.

"We have to sit down with city and see what is available, what they’re proposing and what we’re able to do," he said.

The group remains in the dark about the severity of the problem and how long the pool will be out of service, Hutton added.

The group held a board meeting on Dec. 10 to discuss the organization’s role in discussions with the city, he said.

"There is a lot of interest and support for the pool in the neighbourhood. We’re doing our best to reflect that, and to make sure the city continues to see the value of the pool," said Hutton, a former West End resident who has used the pool for 30 years.

"It’s not about the amount of money the pool brings in or how much the city spends on it. It’s about how much does (the city) spend on the whole neighbourhood, and how much more would it have to spend if the pool wasn’t there to anchor and hold up the neighbourhood."

Smith said his office will offer support to groups affected by the pool’s closure.

Smith also said he will push for funding to repair the pool in the city’s 2013 capital budget.

Seeking private investment for the pool under the city’s new sponsorship program must also be considered, he added.

"It all hinges on how much damage has occurred and how much it will cost to repair," Smith said.

"Any help we can give to maintain that facility will be great."

According to the city, pools are visually inspected on a day-to-day basis by on-site maintenance staff, with more detailed assessments conducted every five years by a third party firm.

The Sherbrook Pool was last assessed in August 2010.

matt.preprost@canstarnews.com

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