Aquatic centre discussion still on the Council table

On Monday night, Saugeen Shores Council  approved a recommendation that directs staff to create a Business Plan for a Saugeen Shores-YMCA facility, in partnership with the YMCA of Owen Sound Grey Bruce. The Business Plan will detail the potential facility’s aquatic features in addition to amenities, such as a fitness centre, while ensuring financial sustainability.

“A YMCA facility could accommodate the recreation needs of the growing population of Saugeen Shores,” says Mayor Luke Charbonneau. “The YMCA model may be the most financially responsible way to provide a recreation facility (including aquatics) for our community so that the taxpayer is not impacted.”

At the Council table, Deputy Mayor Don Matheson, Councilor Kristan Shrider and Vice Deputy Mayor Mike Myatt said that they wanted to see the numbers before any decision is made.  Matheson and Shrider both raised the issue that a complete recreation facility might have the possibility of impacting private fitness facilities in the community.

Myatt stressed that he wanted to see the operation costs of a full-amenity facility.  “I need to know the costs over five years for each year.  We have to build a facility for the long-term and the future.”  Councilor John Rich agreed that the numbers had to be seen before any decision could be made.

Councilor Shrider also pointed out that pool programming has expanded and reiterated her concerns that a full aquatic-fitness centre would compete with local businesses.  She also asked if amenities are negotiable with the YMCA.  CAO David Smith said that there are, in fact, non-negotiable amenities as far as the YMCA is concerned and Director of Community Services, Jayne Jagelewski, confirmed that the YMCA would not consider a partnership in a facility that only had a pool and walking track.  “They feel it’s the amenities that result in membership.”

Matheson also raised the issue that a location has not yet been decided on but he was against a potential facility being located adjacent to, or part of, the PLEX.  “The Plex is going to need a second ice rink and with that comes dressing rooms, so there isn’t the space available.  Also, I will not support a full recreation facility at the Plex that is right next door to an established business (Lakeshore Recreation Centre).”

Councilors Dave Myette and Jami Smith also voiced the same concerns and reservations over the impacts on local businesses.

Mayor Charbonneau said the Business Plan is to provide more information to Council.  “We cannot delay any longer and we will probably have to make difficult choices.  I will not support a facility that increases taxes … I encourage Council to keep this in play so that we can get more information … there will also be funding opportunities coming up with the government and we have to take advantage of making applications.  I would like to see construction begin in 2023.”   He also asked that location options be brought to Council.

The Business Plan will be developed internally by town staff and YMCA staff at no cost, and results are expected in the fourth quarter of 2019. Pending the results and approval, a recommended timeline for the project includes drawings and investigation of grant opportunities in 2020, fundraising campaigns throughout 2021-2022, with anticipated construction in 2023.

The location of the proposed facility has not yet been determined.