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Council accidentally made right decision on Y/Nat buildings’ potential sale

Ron Walter is thankful that council will not move ahead on putting the YMCA and Natatorium buildings up for sale
Bizworld by Ron Walter

The accidental city council decision to hold off putting the vacant Y building and Natatorium up for sale at this time was one of the best decisions council has made in some time.

The decision was accidental in that one councillor, Chis Warren, was absent. He might have voted for the management suggestion to request proposals for the building sale.

The 3-3 tie vote defeated the motion to request proposals for sale of the Y building and the Natatorium.

Coun. Heather Eby made sense when she suggested the proposed sale be held off until the outdoor pool issue is resolved.

The city is working on the province for funds to re-build the outdoor pool and build a separate change room and mechanical room.

Currently, the pool change room and mechanical area are located in the old Natatorium building. Anyone wanting to make a proposal on the two buildings would have been required to maintain the existing Nat change room and mechanical room.

Such a requirement adds to the complexity of any proposal, something obvious that city administration didn’t pick up on.

The Nat has been vacant for about 20 years. Another few years until the matter of a new pool is settled will make little difference to the big picture.

Finding a new owner for the Y building and Nat will be near impossible, in any case, with or without the need to maintain outdoor pool user access.

There is a surplus of commercial buildings for sale in Moose Jaw. Why would any developer want to risk time and money on these old needy buildings located in a park?

A previous request for proposals on the Nat building resulted in not one feasible bite. Now would be no different.

The park location of these two structures creates even more issues with potential re-development. Just about any new use will raise concerns from taxpayers/voters wanting to protect the jewel of Crescent Park from unwanted tenants/owners.

Many people may have forgotten the 1970s public debate and struggle to build the Y next to the Nat. The plan was to take advantage of the then-open indoor swimming pool.

That debate ended in a heatedly fought referendum over development in the park. Advocates of the Y in the park won by a slim margin.

Controversy dogged the plan then and will continue in future.

No one dreamed back then that 45 years later the city would have the liability of the Y building dumped in its lap.

Cost of re-development poses another problem to re-developing these buildings.

According to city estimates, bringing the Y building to code standards would take $3 million over a five-year period. And Eby noted an old study on the Nat that estimated $6 million funding needed to upgrade the Nat to a usable building.

The city may as well wait until the muddy waters surrounding re-building the outdoor pool are settled before trying to find a private owner for these buildings.

Ron Walter can be reached at

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication. 

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