City hall believes a new outdoor pool could cost about $5 million, although it’s banking on other levels of government to pay for half the project.
As a replacement for the 55-year-old Phyllis Dewar Outdoor Pool, the proposed pool would be a 25-metre long junior Olympic-sized venue — the current pool is 50 metres long — with eight lanes and an accessible ramp entry built on the site of the existing pool. It would have a beach-entry leisure pool with spray features, a water slide and a new mechanical building.
There would also be an accessible change room with a reception area, staff room, and concession stand that could also serve Crescent Park.
City hall estimates that annual operating savings with the new pool could be $200,686.
Once the $5,060,578 is acquired, the parks and recreation department will close the Phyllis Dewar Pool in August 2024 and begin construction. The new pool would then open around June 2025.
Meanwhile, the adjacent 89-year-old Natatorium would be decommissioned and utilities shut off. This would save roughly $77,000 a year.
The department plans to include the proposed project in its 2022-26 capital budget and start saving or pursuing grant funding. It also intends to submit the project during council’s 2022 budget deliberations, which begin Dec. 8.
The department presented the proposed project during council’s Nov. 22 executive committee meeting. Council later voted unanimously to receive and file the report.
New pool needed
“The pool has far exceeded its life expectancy. We’re going to be in year 55 here. Typically, you’re lucky if you get 40 (or) 50 years of a pool, so it’s … served the community quite well,” said parks director Derek Blais.
Furthermore, the Natatorium was built almost 90 years ago, when accessibility was not top-of-mind and most people could walk stairs easily, he continued. This proposed pool allows Moose Jaw to build an accessible and welcoming venue.
There were 9,765 people who used the pool this year, which produced $47,862 in revenue, Blais noted. In comparison, Nipawin, which has a population roughly one-eighth that of Moose Jaw, generated $90,040 in revenue through its water park.
City hall considered a bigger pool but realized that would add $1.3 million in capital costs and double expenses for water and heating, Blais added. While a 50-metre venue would be great for competitive swimmers, the proposed 25-metre pool is acceptable for most events.
“I truly believe we need to replace that pool. I don’t doubt that for one second,” said Coun. Doug Blanc.
However, he was worried about whether the size would be sufficient for provincial or national competitions. While building a 50-metre venue would add $1.3 million, he didn’t want to shut down a project that would generate tourism dollars.
Blanc added that he was also worried about the construction timeline and available downtown parking.
The community has said that it wants a downtown pool since residents love the Crescent Park location, said Coun. Heather Eby. She, too, thought the park was a great asset, while she believed the venue’s size made sense due to lower costs and higher benefits.
“If money wasn’t an obstacle, we could have a 50-(metre) pool with all amenities, but we can’t do that … ,” she added. “When the people of Moose Jaw see (the new venue), they’ll really look forward to it.”
Coun. Crystal Froese was also excited and noted that city hall had “squeezed every penny” out of the pool. She indicated that the proposed amenities are great for a community with an average age of 40.
“We have a lot of families that want to take advantage of this new design,” she said, adding having an accessible pool and change rooms will also be great.
The next executive committee meeting is Monday, Dec. 13.