Council committee extends possible lifeline to Thames Pool
London, Ont. city councillors want more information and more opportunities for public input before making a final decision about the future of Thames Pool.
Last week, a city staff report recommended decommissioning the pool because of the cost to repair recurring damage caused by floods and a high water table.
On Tuesday, the Community and Protective Services Committee discussed the report after receiving extensive feedback from the public about the pool’s future and the lack of public consultation.
“We know what it means, so this is a difficult conversation today,” Councillor Elizabeth Peloza told members of the public seated in the gallery and watching online.
“I don’t think we have enough information to make a permanent decision on this location,” said Councillor Skylar Franke. “I think it’s unfair to the community to take away this treasured community spot without a clear path forward.”
A motion drafted by Franke and Councillor David Ferreira called for a five-step process moving forward:
- Staff report by the end of June 2023 to the CAPS Committee to identify options/costs to potentially reopen for 2024
- Conduct thorough community engagement starting in Q2 of 2023, and provide the results to council by the end of Q3 of 2023
- Develop a comprehensive staff report to come to council in 2024 including options/costs for the future of Thames Pool if it’s rebuilt or relocated.
- After the staff report is completed, hold a public participation meeting prior to council’s decision.
- Provide a report to the CAPS Committee identifying the likely causes of the Thames Pool failure.
City staff explained that there is not enough time to reopening the pool for this summer.
Repairs could start in the fall and finish in the spring next year for a 2024 opening if it is a simple repair.
Mayor Josh Morgan said a long-term solution is needed based on the ongoing risk of future flood damage, even if the pool reopens next summer.
“Mistakes that may have been made decades and decades ago, we have to think how to rectify those under a timeline that works for the community that enjoys those,” Morgan said.
The committee backed the five-part plan.
An online petition has collected more than 3,600 signatures since launching five days ago.
The magnitude and intensity of the public response brought Morgan and 10 of council’s 15 members to the committee meeting.
City Manager Lynne Livingstone and four of her deputy city managers were also on hand to answer questions.
Council will make a final decision at its meeting on April 4.
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