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City plan to permanently close Thames Pool called 'horrible' by local Olympic gold medallist

Thames Pool has offered public swimming and recreation to residents of Old South and downtown London, Ont. since 1927, but the pool is unlikely to ever open again.

A new report describes serious structural damage that will prevent the pool from opening this summer, and city staff recommend its permanent decommissioning and replacement with a spray pad.

“Thames Pool has experienced differential movement in the pool floor, failures in the piping systems and a loss of base support likely caused by hydrostatic uplift pressure or frost penetration below the pool floor,” according to a consultant’s report.

The pool underwent redevelopment in 2010.

“Thames Pool has experienced significant infrastructure damage due to its location in the Thames River’s floodplain and ongoing weather events, including severe flooding impacting the groundwater level,” Jon-Paul McGonigle, director of recreation and sport wrote in a news release.

The recommendation to close the public outdoor pool is being felt beyond Old South, the downtown and local aquatics clubs.

Olympic gold medal winning swimmer Maggie Mac Neil posted on Facebook, “This is horrible…my favourite London pool.”

From the NCAA Championships in Tennessee she told CTV News London, “I took some swimming lessons there, my lifeguard courses, so it’s definitely a great atmosphere when it’s open. I know a lot of other people love it just as much as I do!”

A report to politicians outlines five potential options for the future of Thames Pool:

  • Conducting minimum repairs ($375,000)
  • Extensive repairs ($600,000)
  • Rehabilitation ($4 million)
  • Rebuild ($12 million)
  • Decommission

Ultimately, the future of the pool is up to council.

“All of the other recommendations would require regular and repeated repairs, so I think their [city staff’s] point is at what point do we think enough is enough?” explained Ward 11 Coun. Skylar Franke.

“This is an incredibly difficult recommendation to bring forward since we know Thames Pool is a popular destination for Londoners of all ages during the summer season, but this is the most fiscally responsible option,” McGonigle is quoted in the news release.

City staff declined to be interviewed about their report to explain why the redevelopment of the pool 13 years ago didn’t address the current challenges, and whether they have pursued senior government funding.

Franke said the pool is one of only a handful of recreational facilities in Old South.

“I want to hear from residents and see what they’re willing [to support] and maybe there is a big appetite for investing money, but it looks just from a financial perspective and a location perspective, it’s not a great spot,” Franke said.

If council backs decommissioning the pool, Civic Administration would engage the neighbourhood on implementation of a spray pad, explore other recreational infrastructure in the park, and assess the feasibility of including a 50 meter indoor pool in a future community centre build.

“I think this will open up a longer discussion about what recreational opportunities we should have in that area,” added Franke.

The Community and Protective Services Committee will consider the recommendation at a meeting on March 21. Top Stories

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