Critical safety issues with infrastructure at the Norplex Pool prompted city council to immediately and permanently shut down the facility Feb. 13.
An engineering review, which was part of research conducted to aid the new city council in the 2019 budget process, discovered serious structural problems with the changing room ceilings and the waterslide support beams, as well as electrical vulnerabilities in the change rooms and other areas, along with urgent ventilation issues.
“If not addressed, the issues pose serious and immediate safety risks to both pool employees and the public,” said a city news release, adding that risk assessments conducted by the city’s workplace health and safety committee, the Manitoba Lifesaving Society, Manitoba Hydro, Safe Work Manitoba, Manitoba Public Health and other engineers and inspectors have confirmed the seriousness of the issues.
Repairing the issues would be costly and could not guarantee that every safety concern would be addressed, the city said. Pool users with monthly passes or who have signed up for swimming lessons will receive a refund within 30 days and existing pool staff will be offered new work elsewhere with the City of Thompson.
The city will establish a new committee to begin planning for a new facility
“It’s unfortunate that this decision has to be made so abruptly, but we can’t in good conscience let residents or our staff keep using the pool if we can’t guarantee their safety,” said Mayor Colleen Smook in a news release. “We also can’t keep putting money into a facility that our residents aren’t happy with: instead, this is an opportunity for a new beginning in a new facility, one that gives the community what they want.”
“Today, we need a pool that serves our community as a whole, one that accommodates families, elders, and residents with disabilities along with the competitive swimmers who represent us abroad,” said a letter to pool users and Thompson residents from the mayor and council. “A new public pool facility connected to the Thompson Regional Community Centre has already been a part of our 2019 budget discussions, and in the coming weeks we will be creating a committee that will look to the community to find out what a new pool in Thompson needs.”
Council also said they would be organizing an open house for residents to ask questions and receive more information about the decision and what lies ahead.