A recent outcry from residents of Bonnyville for a new pool has caused Bonnyville Town Council to respond by inviting concerned members of the community to come in front of Council and discuss the problems with the pool and its service.
Mayor of Bonnyville, Gene Sobolewski, says the Town isn’t deaf to social media chatter in regards to the pool, “there was quite a little brouhaha going on Facebook, so what I did was invite all of them to a room. I’m going to give them the floor, listen to them.” Mayor Sobolewski says the Town is aware that the pool is aging and is in need of repairs or even replacing, however there’s one factor that seems to be overlooked by the community, “the big thing is, how are we going to pay for it?”
The Town of Bonnyville is responsible for the cost of running the pool, with minimal cost sharing with the MD of Bonnyville, explains Mayor Sobolewski, “the only cost sharing we do with the pool is some operational costs. So the live costs, the upgrading and repairs we don’t have the funding for it.”
This service is a black hole when it comes to the cost of operations and upgrades. You don’t receive anywhere in the amount of revenues for the service that’s provided -Gene Sobolewski Mayor of Bonnyville
The Town of Bonnyville has included grouting the pool in the 2016 Budget, which will allow the Town to get a better idea of what shape the pool is in. “For that period of time, the pool will likely be closed down,” Mayor Sobolewski says this is the perfect opportunity to get an expert opinion on the state of the facility, as it’ll be shut down for a minimum of two months. “While the grouting is going on there may be other updates and upgrades that [the Town] has to do, but it all depends on the money situation, as well.”
“We’re going to look at having a pool specialist come in and see if we do upgrades to the current pool, will it last another 30 years? And if not, what improvements do we have to make and what’s the cost?” Mayor Sobolewski says the Town is willing to look into solutions to make the pool more functional, but that doesn’t necessarily mean constructing a new pool. “It’s going to be whatever’s affordable and whatever will give us the biggest bang for the buck.”
If somebody’s looking for brand-new waterslides & things like that, it’s probably not going to occur – Gene Sobolewski Mayor of Bonnyville
The idea behind inviting people to speak with Council is to have, “open dialogue,” says the Mayor, “providing them with information.” The Mayor says he’s received comments regarding the Town’s plans to build a new Town Hall and that some members of the community have suggested to forgo the build in favour for a pool. An opinion the Mayor says has little validity, “that’s in the realm of ridiculous, we have a 70 year old building.”
People have their opinions, they need to be given the correct facts & try to move forward – Gene Sobolewski Mayor of Bonnyville
“I’ll all for moving forward, but not at the sole expense of the Town,” states the Mayor, “there’s no way we could afford that. Bottom line, if folks want us to increase their taxes immensely for the few that use the pool, that’s fine, we could do it. But I get the sense from the community they hate tax increases.” The Mayor says the users of the pool are far fewer than the population and even with upgrades he doesn’t foresee the pool increasing its users enough to cover costs of a new-build or a complete overhaul. “You have to weigh out, what is it exactly you want to pay for?”
“There are the people who are very much for a new pool, so they’ll put out the argument that if there were a new pool the attendance would quadruple. And you have people who never use it, who will say, ‘I’ll go and I’ll go’. But is it realistic? I’ve done so many of these things in the past, those numbers really don’t manifest themselves,” states the Mayor.
The Town of Bonnyville will be hosting an Open House December 1st at 7:00 pm for anyone wishing to discuss the 2016 Budget, and will advice LCN when the meeting with the public regarding the pool will take place.