DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Residents got their first glimpse of Uxbridge's proposed new aquatic centre at council's meeting on the evening of Monday, March 25.
Following a short presentation from Amanda Ferraro, the township's Manager of Recreation, Culture and Tourism, architect Robert Allen gave a detailed look at the facility, which is slated to be installed at the Kennedy House lands, near the corner of Main St. N. and Ball Rd.
A wide range of pool users packed council chambers as they waited anxiously for details of the new pool.
According to Mr. Allen, the building will occupy nearly 26,000 square feet with 11,500 square feet reserved for the pool area. In addition to a six lane pool, the facility will also feature a leisure pool as well as a multi-use athletic area, which Mr. Allen explained could be used for a variety of purposes such as volleyball, floor hockey and badminton.
There would also be capacity for 500 people in fixed bleachers in the pool area.
Among the concerns raised by users was that a six-lane pool may not suit the needs of the municipality in the future, leading many to push for an eight lane pool.
"One of the things we heard from user groups, especially the Swim Club, was a desire for an eight-lane pool," Mr. Allen explained. "That can fit into the plans, but carries an extra cost of $1.3 to $1.5 million. But, plans indicate that we could do that with this pool."
Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger later endorsed plans for an eight lane pool, not wanting to undertake a costly expansion in the future.
"The arena was built on Brock St. W. in 1978, and less than 20 years later we had to expand it. It makes sense that the expansion be done now so you don't have to go back," commented Councillor Ballinger. "It's not like the extra lanes are going to go bad. If you're going to build it, build it right the first time so you don't have to go back."
Currently, construction costs for the new aquatic centre are estimated at $10 million, with another $2 million set aside for other expenses such as site servicing.
"Currently we only have $4 million, but we are looking for funding to get to the $12 million mark," Ms. Ferraro explained.
The lone change from the Kennedy House Master Plan to the current project relates to parking as plans now call for a shared lot to be placed between the aquatic centre and the skate park.
Ward 3 Councillor Pat Mikuse raised concerns over the amount of parking spaces - 90 spaces are currently proposed for the lot - and Mr. Allen agreed that parking often presents issues in projects of this nature.
"Parking is a big issue. You never want to build too much or too little," said Mr. Allen, adding that overflow lots could be added to enhance parking if large events are taking place at the aquatic centre.
Mr. Allen went on to add that operating expenses for similar sized facilities typically come in at around $600,000 annually, although that figure is dependant on other factors such as wages and programs offered.
More public discussions are expected to follow any grant approvals, with the pool expected to be operational by 2015.
"We have designed a pool that is well within the financial framework available, by no means is this going to be some sort of Taj Mahal," added Mr. Allen.
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