By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News
The Coaldale Community Pool will be prepared while the town pursues more feedback into it’s replacement.
During their regular Dec. 9 meeting, Coaldale town council was presented with a report on the community engagement regarding the future of the community pool.
In mid-July, the town’s pool suffered a critical equipment failure, and left the town without a pool for the rest of the summer. While the town quickly organized a shuttle service that would take people to the Village of Stirling’s pool as a stop-gap measure, the issue remained of what to do next.
Options for the town included not having a community pool, repairing it, replacing it with a similar or larger outdoor pool and replacing it with a indoor pool. This past fall, the town hosted some round-table discussions with the community and launched a primarily-online survey to gauge the community’s wants around the pool.
When town administration presented the report on the community feedback findings to council, they said two things were clear: that the community wanted a pool in town, and there was no clear consensus as to what type of pool they wanted.
“Some type of aquatics facility seems to be people’s preference with respect to Coaldale’s options. With respect to any single option being a clear-cut favourite, that didn’t come out based on the results as being something we’ve received,” said Cam Mills, Manager of Economic and Community Development for the town. “There’s still a fair amount of disagreement amongst the community in terms of the size and scope of the project that people would like to see us undertake.”
A total of 549 responses to the survey were received. In the survey, a total of 59 per cent, or 328 respondents, indicated that the town should fix the current pool, with 22 per cent favouring alternative solutions using other nearby communities and 17 per cent saying to do nothing/impartial/undecided.
While about 50 per cent of the survey respondents indicated some level of approval for an indoor pool option, about 30 per cent, the most common response for that option, indicated strong disapproval.
Town staff had engaged MPE Engineering to provide detailed and updated analysis of what is needed to make the existing pool facility operational again back in October. The accompanying report provided an estimated cost of of $227,200 to supply and install a replacement filtration system and any other required and associated equipment, and includes repairing the leaking skimmers, demolition and removal of existing equipment, electrical, relocation of boilers, diffusers, etc. The updated system requires a two-filter model to replace the existing single filter and space constraints would require relocation of the boiler. The updated system would be capable of turning over the pool water twice as quickly as it can presently, in line with Alberta Health Services pool requirements.
The report also called for assuming annual maintenance of $20,000/year for patching the liner and skimmers in order to ensure the life of the facility is properly extended.
While the estimated cost of repairing the pool was lower than what town staff expected, the built-in standard contingency of 15 per cent may cause issues during repairs, as the facility is well beyond it’s expected life expectancy, and staff recommended a 35 per cent contingency instead, bringing the price to an estimated $265,000, although this is still on the low side of initial estimates.
Assuming this provides five years of additional life, with the cost of the original capital expenditure plus $100,000 for maintenance over that period, the annual cost associated with the repair is approximately $73,000/year.
The cost of constructing a new smaller outdoor pool option— an estimated $4 million — with an assumed 40-year life expectancy and $0 for major maintenance, would be $100,000/year.
Mills said they recommended that council accepts to report for information and direct administration to engage in an RFP to fix the existing pool in line with the report provided from MPE engineering – acceptance of submitted bids only if in line with budgetary approval.
Coun. Doreen Lloyd asked if there was a possibility to move the equipment to ground level rather than having it downstairs. Justin MacPherson, director of operational services for the town, said he did not have a quote for that, but he believed it will be “quite a bit more”, because the main line is already down there, but it is something they can look at.
Coun. Jacen Abrey noted the quote was very specific to the issue that occurred last summer, and raised concern that even after they spend the money to repair the pool, something else could go wrong. MacPherson replied that while it was specific to that issue, the repair would see many mechanical parts replaced that go along with the filtration system.
Abrey also asked about the stability of the pool itself. MacPherson said that the same company that prepared this report had also prepared previous reports on the pool as well, so they know the structure of the pool, and there had been repairs done to the walls underneath the pool.
Coun Roger Hohm asked that if they approve the repairs, when would the decision on a potential new pool be made.
“Is it in the next year, in the next two years? What I’m getting at is I really don’t want to be in this same situation three years or five years from now, when the next major failure happens with this old facility, and we’re sitting back at the same table in panic mode going ‘what do we do now’?” said Hohm. “I would like to set some sort of timeline that says within the next six months or within the next year we have this final decision as to where we’re going to go with the requirements for a swimming pool, what it’s going to look like, ect, ect. Put some timelines on it so we’re not in a panic again.”
Hohm proposed an amendment to the recommended motions to add deadlines to ensure that they have a decision before the end of next year. Abrey said he would be voting against them because they haven’t had budgetary approval or talks yet, and “I just don’t understand how a week is going to make that much difference in the construction process”.
Budget deliberations took place on Dec. 16, and Abrey said that this will have an impact on the budget’s mill rate, and “we did promise a zero per cent increase for next year” and he wanted to wait to see how it will work out.
Council passed a motion to accept the report on public engagement and survey results as information and accept the report on repairing the existing pool and attached engineering report as information and to direct administration to engage in an RFP to fix the existing pool in line with the report provided from MPE Engineering – accepting of submitted bids only if in line with budgetary approval, in a split 6-1 vote, with Abrey being the sole vote against.
Council passed a motion for administration to come back with a go forward plan prior to June 2020, and continue to work with the citizens of Coaldale to find out our long-term plans and come back with a final recommendation by December 2020, in a split 6-1 vote, with coun. Henry ‘Butch’ Pauls being the sole vote against.