Reports about whether to build a new pool or retrofit the shuttered Norplex Pool haven’t been submitted yet but council unanimously approved a resolution Sept. 3 authorizing city administration to seek a $15 million grant from a federal-provincial cost-sharing infrastructure program.
If the full amount were granted, the city would be responsible for paying $4,000,500 – 26.67 per cent of the total.
The deadline for submitting the grant application, which must be accompanied by a resolution of council, is in mid-September, and the city hopes to have a report from the KGS Group – consultants hired in June to study if the city should build a new pool or fix the existing one, which was shut down Feb. 13 due to serious structural and electrical problems – and from city engineers assessing if there is room to build a new pool attached to the Thompson Regional Community Centre, by next week.
“We are about two weeks behind schedule but it looks like [a decision is] going to be made by … council towards the end of September on either a new build or a retrofit,” deputy mayor Kathy Valentino said at Tuesday’s meeting.
Responding to a question from Coun. Duncan Wong about whether the grant from the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program’s community, culture and recreation stream could be applied to only new facilities or also to retrofits, city manager Anthony McInnis said it would have to be for one or the other.
“Once the report comes in on the 11th that will give us enough time, or council enough time, to make the choice of retrofit or new,” he said. “Over 97 per cent of the grant is written. It’s really just waiting for the council decision and some information from the report to add to the grant.”
If the grant application is not submitted this month, it could be two or three years before another chance comes up, said the city manager, adding that the city was advised to seek $15 million in order to secure as much money as possible for the project if the application is successful
“In order to get it and secure dollars regardless of which way we go, whether it’s a rebuild or new, we can’t miss that opportunity,” said Coun. Les Ellsworth.
Coun, Jeff Fountain said information from the reports should be shared with the public once it is available.
“I would implore council and administration to share some version of the report once it’s out so that the public can see what we’re seeing,” he said.
Mayor Colleen Smook agreed that is important to keep city residents updated once studies start coming back and that the city’s share of project costs, assuming the application is successful, can come from any source except the federal government.
“The $4 million that we have to raise does not have to come out of city coffers,” she said. “It can be provincial funding. It can be any of the fundraising that we do. It can be any huge corporations. We are not planning to take it out of tax dollars at this point.”