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W.J. Henderson pool to remain closed while Loyalist Township considers its future

Click to play video: 'Loyalist Township council decides on W.J. Henderson pool' Loyalist Township council decides on W.J. Henderson pool
Loyalist Township council made a decision on a problematic local pool Tuesday night – Apr 20, 2022

Loyalist Township council met Tuesday night to decide what to do moving forward about the increasingly problematic W.J. Henderson Recreation Centre pool.

Council decided Tuesday to keep the pool closed while it considers options.

The pool has been closed since March 9 due to multiple chemistry and infrastructure issues.

Council convened for a special meeting to figure out what to do about the pool, which has a growing laundry list of problems.

Since closing in early March, even more serious issues have floated to the surface.

Read more: Volunteer-run pool in Kingston ready to re-open as it marks 50th anniversary

A staff report said that there’s cracking in the basin, leading to water leaking under the pool causing erosion, among other known issues.

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The report said the pool has experienced “frequent failures” since 2014 and calls short-term repairs a “band-aid solution.”

“In the last five years we have spent an excess of $420,000 on repairs,” said Kari Lambe, recreation and facilities manager. “That is above and beyond what we would consider normal operating or maintenance of the facility.”

Council was presented with three potential options at the meeting, all of which involved keeping the pool closed until further notice.

In the end, it opted to work with community partners to help facilitate interim pool options for residents while keeping the door open for either a full new pool build or an overhaul of the pool in the existing location.

“This leaves the option open for us to be able to expand the pool and build to the future needs,” said Deputy Mayor Jim Hegadorn.

“This pool is 47 years old, so when we build the next pool, whatever it’s going to be, we have to take into account the next 40 years as well.”

Read more: Staff shortage causes an Amherstview, Ont. swimming pool to scale back

A local swim club that uses the pool frequently said it favours the city building a new facility.

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“We’d like to see the area have a bigger pool, perhaps an eight-lane, 25-metre pool,” said Sheri Banks, board president of the Ernestown Barracudas Swim Club, which used the pool around 20 hours each week pre-pandemic.

The estimated cost of building a new pool is $25 million, while a retrofit is estimated to be $24.3 million.

Pre-pandemic, the pool served over 4,000 people per year, more than half of whom are local residents.

Council is waiting to hear back about a critical federal funding grant it applied for last year that would move the project forward.

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