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REPORTING · 26th July 2012
Walter McFarlane
A Mother and a Grandmother from Kitimat, Cori Boguski and Sharon Reece came to Council on Monday, July 16th to talk about the decommissioning of wading pools.

In 2010, Council was axing a lot of items from the community from their budget. Eurocan had just closed. One of the items was the wading pools. It was former Councillor, Randy Halyk who made the motion to keep them. However, Leisure Services Department head, Martin Gould told him the usage was down so the motion was withdrawn, and a second motion to close them passed unanimously.

During the budgeting process for 2012, Kitimat Council decided to take the wading pools, and the basketball court next to the Nechako wading pool, out of the picture because they were becoming eyesores from lack of use.

ďIím hear addressing the Mayor and Council this evening to ask the Mayor and Council to reconsider the decommissioning of the communities two wading pools both at Heron and Chelsea Park,Ē said Boguski. ďAs a mother of a small child, and an active community member and teacher, was shocked to hear mid last week the pools would not be opened again this season, but were going to be removed and filled in.Ē

She stated she was aware the pools have not been operating for three years because of the weather and the economic challenges facing Kitimat. She stated her family misses them and there have been 21 calls at the recreational facilities in Kitimat asking when the wading pools would open.

The callers were upset about the decision and want to know why the wading pools were going to be removed. On hot evenings, the missing pools are noticeable.

Reese found out just that day that the pools were going to be decommissioned. ďIím shocked and very saddened and I implore you, please, do not do that,Ē said Reese.

She stated she took her grand-daughter down town in the heat and she was so over heated, her face was beat red. She took her grand daughter to the fountain to help her cool off.

Reese pointed out they could not go to the beach and the lake is too far away. She said there were a lot of children in Kitimat and while there are important issues, the children are just as important and there is little for them to do.

She also pointed out some families do not get subsidies for the District of Kitimat or Alcan at the pool, so it is more expensive for them to go there. Mayor Joanne Monaghan agreed and explained why the pools shut down.

Reese asked Council to hold onto the pools until there are more industries in town to be able to pay for them. She also questioned Councilís spending because they repainted lines on roads which were dug right up. There were no further questions.

The topic came up again at the Committee of the Whole Meeting on July 23rd. Council was supplied with a memo about what it would take to bring the wading pools up to code.

The memo explained the pools were opened for the last two weekends of June, and every sunny day starting July 1st and usually ends in mid August. The report included an attendance sheet, going back to 2007.

The memo explained it was difficult to staff the pools, as it was part time work with no guarantee of employment, as the pools were only open 20-28 days of the 66+ day period.

The pools are in working condition, save for some hazards to children. The memo estimated it would take about 14 working days to complete, weather dependant. The cost is estimated at around $75,000-$250,000, although $25,000 was already budgeted towards taking out the pools.

The damage is exposed rebar, graffiti removal, repairs to the wind break and repairing foot hazards. Staff will have to be hired and trained to operate the pools. Wading pool attendants are required to have Bronze Cross and First Aid Certification.

Finally, the memo suggests Council prepare for future improvements, either budgeting to make further improvements to the pools themselves, such as fencing them, repaving around them or permanently fixing their foundation, or tearing the pools out and replacing them with a spray water park which would not require a lifeguard.

Councillor Mary Murphy made the motion for administration to maintain the pools and keep them open. Council was presented with a report of the operating costs of the pools for the last couple of years they were in use. Murphy said the costs of operation were reasonable. However, the repair bill for the pools was big.

ďFrom $75,000 to $250,000 depending, Iím not pretty sure what that is but its repairs that have to be made mostly because of tripping hazards Iím assuming. I think itís reasonable, there might be something we can do to raise some funds to keep them,Ē said Murphy.

Shawn OíNeill, explained the costs depends on the Guidance of Council. They can patch and repair what is already there or tear it out and put in a spray park so they would not have to hire lifeguards. He reminded her repairs are both weather and staff dependant, as the public works yard will be doing the job.

Councillor Phil Germuth stated the Lionís Club has already spent $1800 over the past year to fix them up and were surprised to find they had been shut down. They are willing to help out in fixing up the pools ASAP.

Mayor Joanne Monaghan pointed out there was already $25,000 for tearing them out. If there was a change in direction, they were ready to entertain it. Councillor Rob Goffinet stated the pools are in useable shape but they do need some safety upgrades

Councillor Edwin Empinado stated the working parts of the pools are in operating condition and wanted to know if they could open them now. OíNeill explained there was exposed rebar and sharp edges. There were also foot and ankle twist hazards.

Councillor Corrine Scott said the pools were built and maintained by the Lionís Club. The District of Kitimat just staffed them. She expressed the Lionís Club had done an excellent job. The District stopped operating the pools when the Eurocan closure happened but they are no longer in the position. She suggested putting the $25,000 to work fixing the Cement so they could be opened as quickly as possible so the children could use them this summer.

Goffinet stated they could get a grant for them next year to cover the staffing of them. He pointed out it was the end of the month and the average closing date of the pools was the 17th of August with the latest date being the 23rd.

He suggested the District of Kitimat had the ability to react but it would take 14 working days to complete. He estimated the pools would only be open for a couple of days before having to close for the year.

Goffinet suggested working with the Lionís Club over the winter and open the pools properly in 2013 rather then rush a patch job and have them open for a single week.

Germuth stated the work could be patched quickly and be open in no time. He wanted to meet with the Lionís Club and look at the pools. Scott agreed, pointing out they could be opened by August sixth. They could be open for the long weekend.

Murphy wanted to know how lifeguards were assigned to wading pool duty. She was told it was contractual due to the unpredictability of the local weather. The summer students were taking a risk because sometimes they could be out all the time or they could find their job rained out.

The motion for the pools to be maintained and kept open was called and carried.
Behold, the grafiti which needs to be removed.
Behold, the grafiti which needs to be removed.