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Council raises infrastructure grant request based on study that recommends building a new pool

Thompson city council unanimously approved a resolution Oct.
norplex pool
A consultant has recommended that the city build a new pool near the Thompson Regional Community Centre rather than spend nearly as much money to retrofit the existing Norplex Pool, shut down for safety reasons in February.

Thompson city council unanimously approved a resolution Oct. 16 to increase the amount of grant funding it is seeking from a federal/provincial cost-sharing infrastructure program based on a more detailed cost estimate for constructing a new pool contained in a consultant’s study.

The KGS Group, which was contracted in June to study if the city should retrofit the existing Norplex Pool or build an entirely new facility, concluded in their report, now available on the city’s website, that building a new pool at the Thompson Regional Community Centre (TRCC) site was the better option, given that it would only cost about $3 million less to retrofit the existing pool, which was shut down in February due to safety concerns.

If the city is successful in securing an Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) grant, it would be responsible for 26 per cent of the total costs of a new pool, currently estimated to be a bit below $20 million, though this estimate could vary by as much as 25 per cent either way once final building plans are drafted. 

Council also approved first reading of a bylaw to start the process of borrowing needed funds from the provincial government, though that process will not begin until the city knows if its grant application was successful. The city said in a news release that there is no set deadline for awarding grants through the ICIP.

A resolution to submit a grant application to the ICIP was approved in September. At that time, the estimated cost of a new facility was $15 million, meaning the city would be responsible for about $4 million, compared to approximately $5.2 million based on the current cost estimate

Thompson’s chief financial officer Jenny Krentz said it can take two to three months to complete the debenture process to ensure funding for the city’s portion of a new pool’s costs will be available.

However, this does not mean the city is committed to building a new pool at the TRCC site yet.

“This is just getting everything ready, not committing us to anything,” said Coun. Brian Lundmark.

Coun. Jeff Fountain supported the resolution and first reading of the bylaw, though he said he wasn’t sure that pursuing a new pool would be the proper course of action.

“It’s hard to not support a grant application but at the same time I think it’s very important to demonstrate to the city of Thompson that not all of us agreed with entering into the requirements for a new pool,” Fountain said. “I feel that we are putting ourselves in a fiscal situation or potentially putting ourselves in a fiscal situation that we may not be able to dig ourselves out of so while I have to support the resolution for the grant application I want to make it absolutely clear that I had real reservations about a building that we have as a liability that we have no answers in terms of what’s going to happen to it, and what the costs of demolition or decommissioning or rebuilding or renovating that building are gong to be.”

“Final decisions on an actual build in the future would have to come to council for another resolution,” said city manager Anthony McInnis. “This is really on the grant application itself and any future spending towards that would have to come to council.”

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