Sharp public outcry has turned the tide for the embattled Maple Leaf Pool.
On Tuesday night, Regina city council voted unanimously to replace the 72-year-old facility in the Heritage neighbourhood. It had been scheduled to close in 2019.
“We know that the people of this city want that pool replaced, and replaced in a hurry,” Councillor Bob Hawkins emphatically remarked.
Councillors cited a slew of emails and phone calls supporting the ageing pool in addition to a weekend protest and more than a dozen delegates presenting at budget.
“There’s a lot of newcomers in our neighbourhood,” Heritage Community Association executive director Shayna Stock said. “About 20 per cent are First Nations or Metis, and it’s a mix of lower income families and working class families, so the pool is really a hub for the community.”
“We changed our minds. We’ve changed the focus back to a local pool that’s critical- the centerpiece of a community. We understand, we agree,” Mayor Michael Fougere said.
Hawkins pushed to have a new pool open by 2020- though administration felt that was a little too ambitious.
“2020 we would start construction. 2019 we’d do design. You can’t move any quicker than that,” City manager Chris Holden said.
Administration will report back with funding options early in the new year, though council discussed financing through debt and increasing the mill rate at Tuesday’s meeting.
A proposal from Hawkins to pay for it through a .45 per cent mill rate increase was squashed after much debate.
Council heard there is almost $17 million in debt dedicated to replacing Wascana Pool with a new water park by 2021. While Maple Leaf Pool will be a priority, the proposed destination outdoor aquatic facility is not off the table.
“It may be a modified one, but I don’t think we’re going to be talking about the end of the destination (aquatic facility),”Fougere added. “I think we’re talking about moving forward on both projects.”
While details on construction and a price tag may be hazy, it appears the Maple Leaf Pool has a new lease on life.
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