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Increased programs, free leisure swimming at Rotary Pool

Council has approved a pilot project for increased programming and free leisure swimming admission at Rotary Pool this summer. (Oshawa Express file photo)

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

There will be some major changes happening at Rotary Pool this summer.

At its latest meeting, Oshawa city council approved a staff recommendation to provide more instructional programming and increase lane swimming opportunities at the facility this summer on a pilot project.

Earlier this year, the committee tabled a feasibility study of Rotary Park and its pool located near the corner of Gibb Street and Centre Street.

The study notes the pool requires both short-term and long-term upgrades.

The most immediate needs would cost the city thousands, while long-term remediation expenses would be in the millions.

A number of residents came forward at a recent community services committee meeting speaking in support of the city making improvements to the pool.

In approving the pilot project, council also narrowly voted to waive admission at the pool during leisure swimming hours.

Ward 1 city councillor Rosemary McConkey, who suggested the free admission, said the city needs to take action to promote the pool.

“We have to get this pool publicized. It needs to be on the map,” she said.

She also implored the need for the city to find a sponsor to provide fiancial support to the pool through naming rights in the vein of other municipal facilities.

Ward 5 regional councillor Brian Nicholson supported this view.

He also mentioned it would provide some relief to residents in the area who have “limited free recreational opportunities” and also give council an idea of what the future of the pool is.

“We have an opportunity to address both issues. We’ll get a real strong sense of the community’s support for the pool moving forward.”

However, Ward 4 regional councillor Rick Kerr argued having free admission would take away from the entire point of a pilot project.

“You want to be able to keep the factors the same with one significant changes so you can really gauge what the change did,” he said. “If you all of sudden you say we are going to make it free, people may be coming from all over the city.”

If this was to occur, Kerr said the “numbers would be invalid.”

Council eventually approved the pilot project and free leisure swimming admission by a five-to-four vote, with McConkey, Nicholson, Ward 4 city councillor Derek Giberson, Ward 2 regional councillor Tito Dante-Marimpietri and Mayor Dan Carter in favour.

Kerr, Ward 5 city councillor John Gray, Ward 2 city councillor Jane Hurst, and Ward 3 city councillor Bradley Marks were opposed.

Ward 1 regional councillor John Neal and Ward 3 regional councillor Bob Chapman were absent.

Director of community services Ron Diskey said the scope of advanced programming for the pool has yet to be developed.