Tomorrow evening, March 7, Thompson residents will finally get a meaningful opportunity to discuss the sudden and permanent closure of the Norplex Pool with the mayor, city council and members of the city administration, three weeks after the Feb. 14 announcement that the pool would not be reopening after having been closed early the evening before.
Three weeks is quite a while for people to wait for answers, or quite a bit of time to come up with explanations, depending upon your mindset. It also makes it seem as if the likelihood of ever being able to reverse this decision is low, even though – having not seen the engineering review – some people think it might be a better idea to keep the old pool going until the new one is ready, in much the same way that most people don’t make arrangements to move out of their old apartment or house until they have a new one lined up, so as to avoid temporary homelessness.From a logical standpoint, it seems that the city has done things somewhat backwards. While some of the problems in the engineering review may perhaps have been recent, others had been known about for some times, as evidenced by the fact that an engineering review was commissioned. While safety concerns can not be ignored, wouldn’t it have been preferable if the city had received a preliminary engineering report and presented the findings to the people who live here and then asked for their thoughts on whether they should spend the money to help the pool limp along a little further? As it is, the public isn’t being given much of a choice: don’t have a pool forever or don’t have a pool for some indefinite period of time. Building a pool does not take place overnight and some of the people who will be footing the bill for the construction of a new one may not be around to see it open, or no longer have children who are interested in using it by that time.
On the other hand, perhaps the city has already identified funding sources for the construction of a new pool and secretly commissioned plans for one, though this doesn’t seem likely, because what motive would there be to keep such things secret? Hopefully, as of Thursday night, at least some of the city’s residents will have their questions answered and leave the public meeting with a better idea of what the city’s plan is, or whether such a plan really exists.
Regardless of what sort of answers come out tomorrow, it is clear that there has been a breakdown of some sort in the past, whether in the area of communications – i.e. letting the people who pay for the pool now the sort of dire shape that it’s in – or in conducting proper preventive maintenance and repairs, in order to prevent it from getting to the state where public safety dictated that it had to be shutdown without a moment’s notice.
The city has a fund paid for by users of its recreational facilities intended to cover the costs of their repair or eventual replacement. Clearly this is just the sort of situation that fund was created to address, though the fund is not likely sizeable enough to make building a new pool a revenue-neutral proposition.
The current crop of councillors will be the ones considered responsible for Thompson no longer having a pool, at least in the short term, unless their decision is reversed. Will they still be in office when the talked-about replacement is open for use? It seems like a tall order to accomplish in three-and-a-half years, but perhaps the urgency of not having the old facility to rely on in the meantime will provide the motivation to make things happen quickly.