Hoping to convince council to change its mind about replacing McDonald Pool with a wading pool and spray park, a group of neighbourhood residents rallied at City Hall Tuesday.
The residents managed to catch the ear of Coun. Donovan Cavers during a weekend rally at McDonald Park and persuaded him to ask the rest of council to reconsider.
After appearing before council as a delegation, though, the failed to change enough minds.
Residents complained that they didn’t receive adequate notice of the closure, even with the community consultations held last month on North Shore recreational amenities.
“They’re taking away something that we love and replacing it with something we don’t want,” said Michele Piluk.
Brenda Prevost said that when council decided last week to remove a leisure-pool study from its plans, the decision took North Kamloops residents by surprise, leaving them with the prospect of having no swimming pool. She said they have obtained signatures from 350 neighbourhood residents asking for the pool to be repaired and reopened.
“McDonald Park, it’s the jewel of the North Shore,” Prevost pleaded. “More people are coming and we really don’t want to see the pool taken out.”
Opened in 1958, the outdoor pool requires at least $200,000 in repairs. Cost is not the key issue, though, since council agreed to pour $500,000 into building new aquatic amenities in the park. The old pool has the least amount of use of any City-run aquatic facility with about 5,000 visits a year.
Over the generations, families have grown attached to their local swimming, though.
“I am standing here today to inform you that if you take away this pool, it’s going to cause a lot of people to be annoyed,” said 11-year-old Madison Northcott.
“Do you know how many birthdays she’s had at that pool?” said her grandmother, Susan Yackel.
Pool supporters have already set up a GoFundMe campaign online to raise funds for their cause.
“To reconfigure the assets they have in the park is not the best approach given the treatment of Brock and Westsyde,” Cavers noted when the matter came up for discussion later in the meeting.
“My money is still in fixing the pool,” said Coun. Marg Spina.
Most councillors felt, though, that they should stick with the original plan.
Mayor Peter Milobar pointed to the multiple improvements made to McDonald Park in the past decade. Nothing has changed since last week’s decision, he added.
“Ulitmately, at some point in the future, we will need to address the recreational needs of the North Shore with a larger leisure pool,” he said.
Spina and Cavers, along with Coun. Denis Walsh, voted to keep the pool but the majority won out.