By Cole Parkinson
Westwind Weekly News
After a lengthy discussion, Raymond town council has stayed the course in terms of keeping the community pool closed for the season.
While council had originally carried a motion to close the pool for the entire 2020 season during their May 5 meeting, with restrictions somewhat loosening with Phase 2, another discussion around the pool was had.
“The Town of Magrath and the Village of Stirling are keeping their pool closed in 2020. The Town of Cardston is opening their pool on July 2 with programming still to be determined. The City of Lethbridge is focusing on Stan Siwik and the YMCA indoor facilities first and if there is time, they will open Henderson. The others are not opening,” reads administration’s report.
Administration explained that keeping the pool closed for the year would result in the lowest cost absorbed from the town’s perspective.
“It really comes down to two trains of thought,” stated CAO Kurtis Pratt. “How much money do you want to lose at the pool in 2020? We lose money at the pool every year so that’s not meant as a negative comment but if you want to lose the minimum amount of money at the pool in 2020, which could help absorb the lost penalty revenues, which is approximately $100,000, that was deferred as part of council’s COVID support program for municipal residents, keeping the pool closed in 2020 is the best option. If the pool was to remain closed, it would give us the opportunity to carry out some significant deferred maintenance projects this year, along with what the Village of Stirling is doing, to share costs of bringing a contractor in to do more extensive repairs to our liner.”
As restrictions are still in place for how many people can gather in one area, council was worried about opening the pool and not being able to enforce social distancing measures.
“If there are still restrictions of only 100 people, I’m not sure we can open the pool,” said Coun. Bryce Coppieters. “I feel bad about it. We have people that love the pool, and we love the pool, but I think it is almost impossible this year with the maintenance and shorter season to open the pool.”
Under current circumstances, administration’s report detailed how they could conceivable open if that was council’s wish.
The earliest date for the pool to open according to administration would be July 15 and there would be a maximum capacity of 100 people.
Other councillors also agreed with keeping the pool closed, though they also expressed it was not something they wanted to do.
“If the province allowed us to open normally, I would be all over it, even if it was the middle of July,” added Coun. Joan Harker. “I would say maybe let’s get ready, maybe there is a miracle. I am the eternal optimist but I think it’s ridiculous to open the pool with the restrictions there are right now. We’re asking for a nightmarish experience.”
No date has been set for when the province will kick off Phase 3, which also leaves some doubt for opening the facility.
With the possibility of Phase 3 starting at any point, closing the pool completely at this point wasn’t an option all of council was entirely comfortable with.
Though it was also pointed out that there could be a slide in the opposite direction and restrictions could tighten back up.
“I have waffled on this a lot. My initial feeling when we closed the pool was we should only be closing the pool based on health restrictions and not on financial factors. I felt that way because we run the pool every year and it runs at a loss and that’s just a reality of a pool,” said Deputy Mayor Stewart Foss. “Right now, I am leaning towards maybe we should just do it.”
A motion was made by Coun. Ron Fromm upholding council’s original decision to keep the pool closed for 2020.
“I’m not thrilled with it but it’s a reality we have to face,” he added.
The motion was carried 6-1 with Deputy Mayor Foss opposing the motion.