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Mount Forest pool likely closed for good: interim CAO

Unless a future council directs staff to invest in the aging pool, Wellington North's interim CAO said they are focusing on a new pool
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Mount Forest Lion Roy Grant Pool is recommended to remain closed for the 2022 season.

WELLINGTON NORTH – The last swim at Mount Forest’s Lion Roy Grant pool may have already passed.

At a special meeting on Friday, Wellington North council approved a recommendation keeping Mount Forest’s outdoor pool closed for the season and redirecting $200,000 it would cost to fix it in time to open into a reserve fund for a new pool. 

Matt Aston, Wellington North director of operations and interim CAO, confirmed in a phone interview that although the resolution passed spoke to keeping it closed this year it more or less means it will be closed indefinitely. 

“Unless council or a future council decides they want to invest money, and fairly significant money in the old pool, it is at end of life and I think we’ll be focusing our attention on the new pool,” Aston said in reference to the 1950s built pool. 

Aston explained the new pool, planned for township owned land beside the Mount Forest Sportsplex, just went through a public feedback stage and a preferred design should be coming forward to a recreation committee meeting in the near future. 

However, the question of how to pay for the pool is something Aston said council is considering and this decision to keep the pool closed adds pressure to the need to get moving on a new one. 

“The new pool right now, at a very high level, is projected at about a $5.5 million item and council is really trying to hammer out ‘where does that money come from?’” Aston said. 

He acknowledged an outdoor pool is an expensive asset for a municipality considering it takes in user fees only for the two months or so it is open. 

Aston said the municipality is keeping an eye out for federal or provincial funding opportunities for the new pool but most recreation grants are geared towards rehabilitation rather than new builds.

“We’re hopeful that there is potentially a grant application out there that kind of fits with that project but there’s nothing out there right now,” Aston said.

Staffing challenges remain a challenge but Aston said council’s direction clarifies where to focus the few lifeguards they have and how to schedule programming for the summer. 

The next step, Aston said, is for staff to look at what they can do for people who will commute from Mount Forest to the Arthur pool who wouldn’t have had to normally. 

This could include a potential transportation option or some sort of subsidized cost. Aston said there are some complications with both but said council has directed staff to further look into what can be done and a report is expected early this summer.