Will the Nelson pool get replaced by next summer? Ward Councillor is going to battle the city manager to get it done his way.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

December 21st, 2015


Jack Dennison believes he got himself over one of the hurdles he faces in getting a new pool at Nelson Park for the residents of his ward.

The 50 metre pool at Nelson was taken out of commission in May when inspectors found that it was unsafe – due, apparently to the damage done by two back to back heavy winters.

The pool was first opened in 1963. The steel structure with a commercial grade liner was scheduled for an upgrade in 2019.

Nelson pool

Built in 1963 – the Nelson pool was due for a rebuild in 2019 – didn’t quite make it. The ward Councillor wants to fast track the replacement pool and have it opened for July of next year.

The pool was to reopen June 13, but with two severe winter seasons back-to-back, the steel tank at Nelson Pool had seen an accelerated rate of deterioration.” said Chris Glenn, Director of Parks and Recreation for the city.

Parks and Recreation had hoped to find a solution but by August it became evident that the pool was never going to reopen – it would have to be rebuilt.

In December a staff report was issued with a number of options:

Option 1
Re-build the 50-metre – (comparable to original) – $4.6 – $5.2 million
8 lane, 50-metre pool to meet competitive swimming requirements with an adjacent zero depth entry leisure pool and water play features. Original pool was 7 lanes which is not typical. Approximate swimmer capacity would be 550.

Option 2
Build a 25-metre (smaller version) – $3.7 – $ 4.3 million
6 lane, 25-metre pool with an adjacent zero depth entry leisure pool and water play features.
Approximate swimmer capacity would be 350.

Dennison picked up on the views of the community and decided he would fight for what the community once had – a 50 metre pool. He held a ward information meeting at his recreation facility where the audience was small, made up for the most part of members of the Devilrays competitive swimming club.

Swimming - BAD Devilrays

The Nelson pool is the only location suitable for competitive events in the city.

The swimmers lobbied every member of council – and handed the council committee Clerk a thick file of petitions. That and a solid delegation from a service club and the Standing Committee went for the first option. That got confirmed at the city council meeting last week.

The next step for Councillor Dennison was – When!

He wants the new pool in place for the summer of 2016 – the city manager didn’t see it quite that same way.

Dennison wanted a Design and Build approach rather than the longer, and more expensive approach – putting the job out to tender where the city has to accept the lowest bid that comes in.

Dennison argues that there are a number of pool builders in the province who built swimming pools for the Pan Am Games. They have the experience and have used the most recent technology and could get a new pool in place quite quickly – by July of next year according to Dennison who has had conversations with a number of pool builders.

With a council decision to build a “like for like” – they had a 50 metre pool – so they get a new 50 metre pool – Dennison now needs to convince his colleagues to direct staff to put out a call for Design and Build proposals.

The city manager was having a bit of a problem with that approach. His view was that city council was straying onto his turf and that the decision as to which approach should be taken was part of his domain.

City manager James Ridge, who brings his ten years of Canadian Army Military Police experience and background to his task, has run up against Jack Dennison who doesn’t have much time for org charts and chains of command. Jack Dennison just wants to get out there and get it all done.

Next step for Dennison is to see if he can find the three votes he needs to get the Staff Direction passed. Will he be able to convince three of his fellow council members to vote for a Staff Direction to at last take a look at what a Design and Build proposal would look like?

It is going to be hard for those members of council from the east end of the city to say no to just looking.

Mayor Goldring once represented ward 5, will he say no? The 200 emails members of council got from the swimming club members will have an impact on any decision that gets made and when the rest of the community hears that it just might be possible to have their pool in place for next summer – well you can get a sense as to how that discussion is going to work out.

Assuming Dennison can get a Staff Direction voted on – he then has to find the money to pay for the work. Joan Ford, city treasurer, did say the money was in place for the work to be done in 2018 – and maybe 2017 if some juggling around of funds were done.

Dennison points to a number of tasks that were going to be done in the ward that he would have no problem with doing some switching of delivery dates on.

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison always has an eye open for an economic opportunity - sees a great one for the city: sell the golf course.

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison has served on city council for more than 20 years – he knows the territory exceptionally well. Will he have his way with the city manager?

What just might be shaping up is a bit of a showdown between the city manager, who has yet to be tested, and a city Councillor who wants to deliver a big one for his constituency.

The two issues just might end up on the front page at about the same time as Dennison’s Ontario Municipal Board hearing on his appeal against a Committee of Adjustment decision not to allow him to sever his Lakeshore Road property where he lives in a historically designated home is heard.

This is one to keep an eye on as we move into a new year.

Don’t count on Dennison losing this one.

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5 comments to Will the Nelson pool get replaced by next summer? Ward Councillor is going to battle the city manager to get it done his way.

  • Lois Best

    John, that’s because our council is self serving!!

  • John

    If Councilor Dennison is correct, a new pool would be ready in approximately 6 months and cost less.
    If he can’t get support for that, we all need to have a chat with our councilors.

    When council has the will, it’s remarkable what can be achieved in 180 days.

  • James

    Typical outdoor pool, albeit on a smaller scale, costs approximately $40,000. Let’s say for sake of argument we multiply that by 20 times to make it more comparable. That’s $800,000. Let’s say even that’s not enough, and we multiply it by 40 times! That’s $1.6 million.

    Why is this pool costing taxpayers 3.7 to 5.2 MILLION dollars??? Who’s negotiating these contracts at city hall anyway??

    • C Jester

      Cost does seem to be from Neverland, doesn’t it? Maybe pool is to be filled with natural spring water imported from France, and built with steel from India, in keeping with international free trade agreements?

  • Mike Ettlewood

    Go get ’em Jack! But remember, wherever possible the City should be using asphalt rather than concrete. Perhaps, we can commission another study – provide a Christmas present for a starving consultant or two. What a joke.