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No big splash

DAN CEARNS The Standard

Recent trends across Canada, as well as locally, make me think all the people who have been clamouring for a municipal indoor pool to be created in Scugog will have to wait a lot longer for that project.

As some likely read in last week’s issue of The Standard, the Blackstock Arena and Community Centre has seen growing costs just to maintain the facility’s structure and operational costs. This included a total of $533,500 in immediate needs for the arena and $346,000 in immediate needs for the community centre portion. In terms of the arena, the Township is only going to consider expenditures “that relate to safety and low-cost items” during the 2024 budget process. While this is good business for a facility that is slated to be replaced in the coming years, it also hints at the fact the next Township budget will likely be quite tight.

That report also noted the Township has been unable to achieve grant funding for the new arena project on three different applications. With a facility that will likely require a significant investment to build, it is fair to assume that the Township would require at least some grant funding to build a pool facility. And the current grant funding trend obviously isn’t looking great for major builds. The arena is also a higher priority on the Township’s recreation and culture master plan, setting the priority clear on achieving grant funding for that project over a potential pool facility.

Both the Township of Uxbridge and Scugog have seen the impact of ballooning costs on new facility projects as well, as the new animal shelter has been on hold for a number of years because of inflation and material costs. The project is, however, going through a feasibility study at the moment. If two municipalities can struggle this mightily to get an animal shelter built, you’d have to think a pool facility would be just as complex and costly.

Then there’s the impacts of the provincial government’s mandate on housing. With the province pushing for growth, that will put greater demands on municipalities for services for an increased population, faster deterioration of roads with increased traffic, while development charge revenue decreases due to provincial legislation. Police in Durham Region and Kawartha Lakes are also impacted as they request heavy increases in their budget just to keep pace with the increasing populations.

I wrote in a column a number of years ago that an indoor pool did not make sense at the time for the Township to undertake. Unfortunately, I maintain that opinion today because of recent events.

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