In 2016, consultants were hired and public meetings held to explore the feasibility of the YMCA moving to the Cobourg Community Centre (CCC) but in 2017 the idea was shelved because it was too expensive (cost perhaps $25M). The YMCA centre and particularly its aquatic centre (pool) is reaching end of life and Leslie Murray of the YMCA will be presenting the case once again at Council’s Committee of the whole on Monday, November 4. Leslie is General Manager – HFA (Health, Fitness and Aquatics) Operations & Community Development. She quotes from a 2017 report by the consultants (link below) that documents the current situation, our demographics and public opinion. The report recommends a merge of facilities – in particular to provide a pool at the CCC. It also points out the need to do a lot more work including design and the need for negotiations between the Town and the YMCA on who pays for what.
Leslie plans to make a request to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program and wants a letter of support from the Town.
She quotes the consultants who highlighted the following:
- An expanded aquatics centre is warranted based on population growth projections and industry standard for population threshold to support an aquatics facility.
- An expanded aquatics centre is in the top three recreation facilities residents would like to see offered in Cobourg, and both survey respondents and public engagement respondents indicated a desire for a new aquatics facility.
- The median age of Cobourg residents is 49.6 years of age, with a significant percentage of the population aged 55 years or older, making aquatic exercise and swimming highly indicated for a large portion of the community.
- Additionally, as a community surrounded by water, it is essential that adequate facilities are available to ensure the opportunity to learn to swim is available to all.
The current YMCA pool was built in 1980 so is almost 40 years old and current practice would make a new pool more attractive.
She provides a “draft letter of support” – see links below.
She does not (of course) mention the negatives brought up when the public were consulted – for example:
- How will it be managed? The YMCA and the Town have very different philosophies and organizations – including 1) that the YMCA is non-union and the Town is unionized and 2) that the town subsidizes the CCC but the YMCA breaks even.
- Will there be enough parking?
- YMCA Membership fees too high
- YMCA would lose its identity/ culture
Leslie is also facing an uphill battle when grants are decided – it’s unlikely that Cobourg would be given Government money for all three major projects that are being applied for this year: 1) Waterfront repairs ($10M), 2) a new Town Square (Victoria Square – $1.5M) as well as 3) a new pool at the CCC ($25M). But maybe the bureaucrats like the idea? Give her marks for trying – let’s see if Council approves the idea. The deadline for applications is November 12 and if the grant is awarded, the Town would still have to find 27% of the project cost. It would have to be completed by 2027.
- Cobourg Community Centre and YMCA Northumberland Joint Facility Needs – Dated February 2017 – on Town of Cobourg Portal
- Report by Cobourg News on decision to not proceed – with links to Public meetings etc. 16 August 2017
- Draft Letter of Support by Leslie Murray
- More about the Harbour – look at second item below the pictures – about the grant applications for Harbour repairs and Victoria Square – 28 October 2019
Addendum – 4 November – 11:30 am
Despite the recommendation of the report from the consultants, Leslie Murray informs me that her plan is NOT to build a pool at the CCC but to expand/improve the pool at the existing facility on Elgin Street. That will mean the estimate of cost is different. She still needs support from the Town but she’s not planning to move to the CCC although that was originally thought to be the best way to upgrade aquatic facilities in the Town. If the aquatic centre stays at the YMCA facility, the organization issues would be resolved.
The Joint Town/YMCA committee evaluating the issue reported to Council in August 2017 – download their full report here. The relevant recommendations are as follows:
- The YMCA and the Town have mutually concluded that at the present time it is in the interest of the community that the YMCA refurbish and expand its current location at 339 Elgin Street West, Cobourg.
- Due to funding challenges, and despite the expected design challenges, an improved and refurbished YMCA at its existing location that includes expanded indoor aquatic facilities, would be in the best interests of the community at this time.
Hopefully, the YMCA delegation will make it clear in their presentation to Council that it’s an upgrade to current facilities being planned, not a pool at the CCC as was recommended by the consultants and as was discussed in the public meetings at the time.