Future of Strathcona community pool unknown
Published Monday, November 26, 2018 4:32PM MST Last Updated Monday, November 26, 2018 6:40PM MST
With many funding requests in to council and few dollars to go around, Edmonton’s oldest pool is among the projects whose time has come to sink or swim.
Built in 1957, Strathcona’s Scona Pool is near closure.
A master plan of development for the area includes a $76 million recreation centre, but it has not received any funding yet—meaning any replacement pool for the neighbourhood is, at best, years away.
“We want to make sure there is a design in place now, so we that can we can start to look at funding options for getting this facility built so that there is no lag between when Scona Pool closes and a replacement for it is ready," said Jol Semeniuk.
Semeniuk is a member of the Friends of Scona Rec group, which has advocated for an aquatic facility to be part of the recreation centre in the city’s Rollie Miles Athletic Field District Park Renewal project.
The Scona Pool epitomizes a larger issue for Edmonton city council: trying to densify central established neighbourhoods.
Many of the facilities in Edmonton’s core already, or will soon, need repurposing or replacing—but Edmonton’s newest and largest rec centres are being built on or proposed for the city’s peripheries.
Semeniuk, a father of four from Old Strathcona, said some families are choosing to leave the community rather than drive to the new locations.
“And we’ve had those similar thoughts,” he said.
At Monday morning’s council meeting, Mayor Don Iveson said “this narrative that it’s a balance between the suburbs and core communities is entirely false.”
As city staff waded into a discussion about dollars, he floated the idea of using a community revitalization levy to finance a new facility.
A CRL is a strategy that pays for the infrastructure over time using property tax revenue. It works only when the project spurs new development.
“There's a user pay, user benefit to this. And a CRL could actually be a neat and tidy way to do that,” Iveson said.
Either way, the Scona Pool won’t be the city’s oldest for much longer.
With files from Dan Grummett