Pool De­bate

Mar­ket sur­vey un­der­way to gauge pub­lic in­ter­est in a pool/recre­ation cen­tre

Shoreline Beacon - - Front Page - Frances Learment Ed­i­tor

The cost of a po­ten­tial part­ner­ship be­tween the Town of Saugeen Shores and the YMCA Owen Sound Grey Bruce for a $21 mil­lion pool/recre­ation cen­tre in Port El­gin dom­i­nated ques­tions voiced at a pub­lic meet­ing Nov. 28, hosted by the Town to in­tro­duce the YMCA, and up­date ef­forts to re­place the ag­ing Cen­ten­nial Pool.

Jayne Jagelewski, the Town’s Di­rec­tor of Com­mu­nity Ser­vices, said the meet­ing was an op­por­tu­nity to ed­u­cate and in­form peo­ple about the YMCA, and an­swer “nag­ging” ques­tions.

She said the YMCA was a “log­i­cal” choice to ap­proach last Novem­ber af­ter Town Coun­cil - faced with dwin­dling re­serves, lim­ited ac­cess to grants and an an­nual $280,000 op­er­at­ing deficit at Cen­ten­nial Pool - au­tho­rized a search for po­ten­tial part­ners to help pay for a new fa­cil­ity, es­ti­mated at $21 mil­lion.

Talks led to a Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing that Jagelewski said in­di­cate the Town would rely on the YMCA for the de­sign of the fa­cil­ity and fundrais­ing - if they get to that point - and the YMCA would op­er­ate ev­ery­thing, ex­cept the ice sur­face, if the fi­nal lo­ca­tion were The Plex.

Gayle Gra­ham, CEO of the YMCA Owen Sound Grey Bruce de­tailed the groups’ 140-year-his­tory and evo­lu­tion to a non-profit char­ity that to­day in­cludes the aquat­ics cen­tre in Owen Sound, five preschool pro­grams (in­clud­ing Port El­gin), be­fore and-af­ter-school pro­grams, and em­ploy­ment and hous­ing as­sis­tance in Grey Bruce.

A video pro­vided a vir­tual tour of the $60 mil­lion YMCA health and fit­ness fa­cil­ity in Owen Sound, and de­tailed its all-in­clu­sive mem­ber­ship model and an­nual fundrais­ing.

Jagelewski stressed that do­ing the mar­ket study does not mean they are build­ing the fa­cil­ity.

“It will be up to the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity and coun­cil to de­ter­mine whether or not, and how, we can af­ford to build such a fa­cil­ity,” she said, adding the mar­ket study would in­ves­ti­gate if they can pay for ameni­ties and ser­vices the com­mu­nity says it wants in the ran­dom tele­phone sur­vey of 417 peo­ple.

Gra­ham said the mar­ket study will tell them how many peo­ple are in­ter­ested in us­ing a recre­ation fa­cil­ity and sug­gest ex­pected rev­enues that will help with them to de­sign a fa­cil­ity that fits the needs but is also fis­cally sus­tain­able.

Jagelewski said the YMCA would help re­duce the Town’s cur­rent $280,000 deficit to op­er­ate the 41-year-old Cen­ten­nial Pool.

An­other is­sue was the fate of the Saugeen Shores Life­sav­ing Club (SSLC) that op­er­ates at Cen­ten­nial Pool, and cur­rent aquat­ics staff, if a part­ner­ship with the YMCA was ap­proved.

Jagelewski said SSLC is a true value to the Town with deep roots, and as a suc­cess it is “not go­ing any­where,” adding SSLC mem­bers would ben­e­fit from ad­di­tional train­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

She said the YMCA would hire from within and of­fer new op­por­tu­ni­ties to cur­rent Town aquat­ics staff.

Asked about the cost of a YMCA mem­ber­ship, Jagelewski used the ex­am­ple of the cost of youth swim­ming les­sons. At Cen­ten­nial Pool, the Town would charge $270 for four ses­sions. At the YMCA the cost would be $233, in­clud­ing use of all of all YMCA fa­cil­i­ties.

Af­ter the meet­ing, Holly Van­derzwet, owner of two Saugeen Shores fit­ness cen­tres, said she ac­cepted the YMCA con­tention that a new fa­cil­ity would spur in­ter­est in fit­ness, but is con­cerned it would cost her cus­tomers.

She sup­ports fair com­pe­ti­tion, but said the YMCA should not be in the fit­ness busi­ness and cost her clients.

“I don’t want to lose any­one at all, but it’s dif­fi­cult to com­pete with a brand new fa­cil­ity, when I’ve taken 25 or 30 years to kind of build my busi­ness with equip­ment that is not state-of-the-art ” Van­derzwet said, adding she hopes the town “will sup­port” ex­ist­ing fit­ness and health busi­nesses, which pay prop­erty taxes, un­like the YMCA.

To the sug­ges­tion by Jagelewski that lo­cal fit­ness busi­nesses should “rise to the oc­ca­sion” Van­derzwet said she’d con­tinue to grow and sus­tain her busi­ness, but “I do not think I need a kick in the pants.”

Jagelewski said the next step – the mar­ket sur­vey – would de­ter­mine if there is the de­sire and need for a recre­ation fa­cil­ity and pro­gram­ming in Saugeen Shores.

She urged any­one called to take 10 min­utes to an­swer the sur­vey ques­tions, which will be tab­u­lated and pre­sented to staff and Coun­cil for a de­ci­sion in late Fe­bru­ary or early March.

The YMCA Owen Sound Grey Bruce in­vited Saugeen Shores res­i­dents to a free day of spe­cial pro­gram­ming Jan­uary 27, from 11:30-5 p.m.

Ques­tions about costs and ser­vice lev­els at a pro­posed Port El­gin pool/recre­ation cen­tre were raised by some of the 150 peo­ple at an in­for­ma­tion meet­ing hosted by the Town of Saugeen Shores to in­tro­duce the YMCA of Owen Sound Grey Bruce, a po­ten­tial pool/recre­ation cen­tre part­ner, at a pub­lic meet­ing Nov. 28 at The Plex.

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