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A Charlottetown resident wants the city corporation to make a long-term commitment to the Simmons pool.
Brian Doyle, who used to teach swimming lessons at the pool and worked there as a lifeguard, first raised this issue a decade ago when the city refurbished the pool at Victoria Park.
When the city committed money to the pool at Victoria Park and not the one at Simmons, Doyle took it as a sign that the city eventually planned on decommissioning the Simmons pool. His opinion hasn’t changed today, pointing to the lack of significant upgrades during the past decade.
The pool at Victoria Park, he argues, is a great place for young children to splash around and cool off. It’s a complement to the park and the overall experience of visiting the park.
Doyle said Simmons, on the other hand, has a structural design that is suitable to swimming programs, lifesaving training, fitness and competitive swim training, as well as recreation. In addition, it’s the only pool with those capabilities in the city this summer since Bell Aliant Centre is closed for renovations.
Doyle also points to speculation over the past few years that the city will close the Simmons Sport Centre (the arena adjacent to the pool) and the Cody Banks Arena in favour of a new multi-use sport and entertainment complex in a central area.
Doyle said losing the pool and the arena would be a blow to each area of the city.
“You remove infrastructure from the community and you build a central project, and everyone has to go madly off in their cars to this central point and you no longer have the uniqueness of a neighbourhood,’’ Doyle said. “Victoria Park is under so much pressure with parking … here, you have a huge parking lot and it’s close enough many people can walk or bike to it. It’s a real shame there isn’t more of a concerted effort to make it more than it is today.’’
The city did create the Simmons Sport Centre master plan, 2013-2022, to explore options for the complex. In May 2014, council passed a resolution to receive the plan as a guiding document, for council’s consideration, for the property’s short- and long-term future.
Since council received the plan, the city said it has continued to maintain the existing building while looking into options to replace Simmons and the pool.
This year, the city applied for Investing in Canada Plan funding to construct a possible twin-pad arena complex to replace the arenas at Cody Banks and Simmons. The city also applied for funding to replace the Simmons pool and is still waiting for word on those funding requests.
Coun. Mitchell Tweel, chairman of the parks and recreation committee, said he understands Doyle’s frustration.
“We’re on the same page,’’ Tweel said, referring to Doyle’s wishes.
“This is a tremendous location that has worked extremely well for the last 43 years. Sometimes things just take a little longer. If it was up to me, we’d have two turf fields at Simmons; we’d have a new arena and we’d have a new pool.’’
The councillor added that the Simmons area is vital to the surrounding community, pointing out that it not only serves a neighbourhood but schools such as West Kent, Spring Park, Queen Charlotte, Colonel Gray, Prince Street and Parkdale.
To view the City of Charlottetown’s master plan on the Simmons Sport Centre, click here.