October 11, 2022 Council Meeting re Aquatic Wellness Centre

To the Editor:

I watched the recent council meeting [41/2 hours] on the town web cast and there are so many matters that I would like to comment on.  Just now, however I will pick on this one – the Aquatic Wellness Centre. With my work background experience, I would call it a Council/Project Meeting. There were several ongoing projects discussed.
The overall estimate for the Aquatic Wellness Centre has gone from $26 million to approaching $40 million. I realize that these estimates are based on Conceptual Designs at this time. However I only wish to discuss the Wellness Centre [Gymnasium] and its need in today’s economy. We should only be building what we need, not what we want.
Presently there are four gymnasiums in Saugeen Shores, two in Port Elgin and two in Southampton, two of these gyms have long established owners, with one of these two gymnasiums basically located at the front porch of the Plex. None of these facilities are turning potential customers away.
I am an old soul, but I have been going to the gym twice a week, and still do, for over 30 years, I have been a member of three of these gyms, the fourth one has just opened. All of these facilities meet the personal needs of those who are able to make use of a gym.
Several years ago I had surgery and afterward based on doctors recommendation, I signed up for a six month supervised exercise program at the Owen Sound YMCA.  I would like to dwell on the track, discussed extensively at the council meeting. Of the gyms mentioned, only the YMCA has a lined track, it has two suitable lanes and I made occasional use of the track, walking as the few others were. Having a track is not the big attraction at a gymnasium.
The majority of council members requested a four lane track, they are discussing a four lane track around a basketball court size area, apparently it could also be used for indoor track meets (?). Also, basically the total width of the eight walking lanes increases the width of the building, by a similar width, while also affecting the building cost.
As a general comment, although Mayor Charbonneau said that the town could still afford the larger project cost, he did acknowledge that perhaps considering delaying some options should be discussed. Some members of council spoke about fund raising to make up the increase in the cost estimate. Mayor Charbonneau cautioned by saying that the town must be able to afford the full cost of the project on approval. Can it be assumed that all members of council have made a site visit to the Owen Sound YMCA?
Raising $1 million plus fund raising for a ball diamond park should not be compared to the shortage in this project estimated cost. The town is talking about having a shovel in the ground for this project by March 1, 2023. I do not agree with that start date. A further meeting is scheduled for mid-December with the Consultant to discuss final conceptual changes, that then will have to be approved by Council followed by any engineering changes required.
Allan Murray