Letters to Editor: Engineering expert looks at proposed Aqua development

To the Editor:
Apparently, this decision regarding the Saugeen Shores Aquatic and Wellness Centre has not been reached yet.
I still support a six-lane pool. I remember attending a pool/gym public meeting held at the Plex a few years ago, set up by the town and Owen Sound YMCA.  A fellow spoke on behalf on the Breakers Aquatic club www.breakersswimteam.com, [check first line of their “Our Philosophy” statement].  The Breakers Club guy was pushing for more lanes and I wonder how he convinced our Mayor and council to support an eight-lane pool. (Googling for pool standard sizes in similar applications would recommend a 6 lane pool)
My wife and I spent some time over Christmas in Hamilton. I made use of a YMCA facility and a city Recreation Centre and also visited the only eight-lane indoor pool in Hamilton.
The Hamilton YMCA facility was constructed about 10 years ago, has 6,000 members, 1,900 of whom are signed up for the different pool activities in the four-lane pool and they also have busy Aquafit and Hydro Therapy pools. The basketball court supports an additional five ball or racquet activities, they have a huge weight and exercise gym (which does not have a track), a cycle fit room. coffee shop, 20 full time employees, 100 part- timers, mostly high priced instructors [their description] and lifeguards.
The city facility located in Ancaster was constructed about 10 years ago, has a basketball court which supports other activities, a weights and exercise gym, which is leased out to a separate operator (the present operator is the third lessee in 10 years). Like Saugeen Shores, there are other long established gyms in the near area.
There is an excellent ice pad, which was installed a few years previously, using the available funds available at that time, a snack bar and the three facilities are all under one roof and it is one of the best facilities that I have seen. The six-lane pool is located on the Ancaster high school property and was constructed about 50 years ago and is still in excellent condition and is located across the road from the Recreation Centre.
I visited the only eight-lane pool in the city, the 10-year-old Recreation Centre that is also located on a high school property, both located in an older city survey.  Reservations have to be made for the Aquafit and Hydro Therapy pools, the large pool has never been fully utilized and aquatic events are not held there as overall better facilities are available elsewhere in the city. The addition of warm therapy pools are easing the strain for the use of the larger pools.
All of the city Recreation Centres are on city public transportation routes. For the city-operated facilities, I was unable to obtain on site staff numbers but were visually obviously less. I was also unable to source the total membership numbers although the guesstimate is at 30,000+ and an individual membership provides access to all city Recreation Centres.
Once past the name plate on the buildings, the facilities inside were equal in quality but the BIG difference was in membership fees.  YMCA rates are seven times on average more expensive.  A striking example is, adult 55+ annual rate at the YMCA is $848.00 while at the city Recreation Centres, adult 55+ annual is $52.25. Other rates can be obtained from the respective web sites.
At the recent December 15, 2022 Saugeen Shores Council meeting, councillors were suggesting the addition of solar panels on the building roofs plus green roofing to cut operating costs.
I look at this matter from a different viewpoint.  Reduce the the size of the pool to a six-lane option that will save on the operating costs to heat the pool water, assuming that the heat exchangers are being fuelled by Natural Gas, which will also lead to the exhaust of Methane Gas being vented to the atmosphere almost continuously for ever and adding to Green House Gas Emissions.
While I am just an old soul with vast experience in engineering and project management, having worked in the Steel Industry and having managed projects comparable in size to the project currently underway at Bruce Power … there is much to consider for the proposed Aquatic Centre.
Allan Murray