Thompson city council approved first reading of a bylaw to create an aquatic facility reserve at their Dec. 13 meeting after debate over whether the money could be put towards reopening the Norplex Pool or only towards a new facility.
Coun. Katy Valentino opened debate on the proposed reserve, which must pass second and third reading before being established, saying that having money specifically set aside for a pool wold make the process more transparent.
“To use those funds there would have to be a public hearing,” she said.
Coun. Jeff Fountain said it was still unclear whether council had made a decision on whether to pursue a new pool or possibly repair the Norplex, though a design for a new pool has been commissioned and the city has applied for infrastructure grants to cover most of the cost of a new facility.
“I still to this day don’t know whether … the old pool’s still on the table for repair,” he said.
More than two years ago, in October 2019, council approved a $20 million application to the federal-provincial Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. At that time, city manager Anthony McInnis said council would have to approve actually building a new pool once all the pieces were in place in order for such a project to proced, a position he reiterated Dec. 13.
“When [the design and engineering studies] come to council, then council will have to make a decision on the tendering process,” he said.
“Just to be clear, [the proposed reserve] is for any aquatic facility,” McInnis said after further questions from Coun. Duncan Wong about whether the reserve could be used to fix up the Norplex Pool, which was shut down permanently in February 2019 due to safety issues. “What this prevents is these funds can not be turned around and spent on roads or something like that.”
Mayor Colleen Smook said the decision on whether to proceed with a new pool once the city has figured out some way to pay for it would be up to council members though she expressed a definite preference.
“I personally would like a new pool,” she said.