Grant MacEwan University is not going to reverse the decision to close its pool, students and staff were told in an open house Friday.
"Anyone who knows anything about pools knows that they're costly, they're difficult to maintain," said Cathryn Heslep, the vice president for Students Services at Grant MacEwan.
The 17-year-old pool is also in need of significant renovations, she said, likening it to a car needing a new transmission.
The university announced the closure last week, arguing it would save $500,000 a year — money needed to deal with the institution's $5.5 million budget shortfall.
The decision was a surprise to students and staff.
"There has not, in fact, been a formal consultation. I will acknowledge that," said Heslep.
She asked students for their input in the planned renovations, which will expand the fitness centre into the space currently occupied by the pool, at a cost of $700,000.
"Bring your dreams forward, talk to us about what you'd like to see in the expanded fitness centre," she told the assembled group.
A frustrating decision
The university's decision wasn't well received by Katelyn Babcock, a student in the physical education department.
"It frustrates me, especially because nobody was consulted and just knowing that they took, like, a couple of days made their decision and then they weren't even going to tell anybody," she said.
Babcock said the current fitness centre is big enough, and she can sometimes use it even during the blackout periods that ban students from noon to 1 p.m. and 4 - 7 p.m. on weekdays.
The unversity said the expanded fitness centre will eliminate those blackout periods. But Babcock said that won't compensate for losing the pool.
"We don't have a rink, we don't have a football field [or] soccer field and we have all these teams, and the pool is one facility that we do have so I feel like we need to keep it."