Edmonton

Scona Pool, library funding defended at city budget open house

Edmonton city council took the afternoon Wednesday to listen to public concerns before getting down to deliberations next week for the 2010-2011 city budget.

Edmonton city council took the afternoon Wednesday to listen to public concerns before getting down to deliberations next week for the 2010-2011 city budget.

People representing Strathcona High School and the south-central Edmonton neighbourhood around it pleaded with council for a one-year reprieve on the recommendation to close Scona Pool.

Supporters of Scona Pool believe new development in the area will increase pool use and justify city money to keep it open. ((CBC))
"Please let Scona Pool be open for one more year so that ... Queen Alexandra, the community, the kids, the seniors, everybody can get together with River City Recreation and neighbouring leagues," said Julie Kusiek of the Queen Alexandra Community League.

"Let us have this opportunity to work together to build the pool, not only for 2010, but for the rest of her years in Queen Alex," Kusiek said, referring to the baby daughter she held in her arms.

On July 8, council committed $120,000 to keep the pool running until the end of the year, after city staff recommended closing it as a cost-saving measure.

One of the reasons for the recommendation to close the pool was the low usage compared to the city's other indoor pools. Figures from the city show Scona Pool had 36,312 visitors in 2008, compared with 117,604 for Bonnie Doon and 64,694 for Eastglen pool.

Proponents of keeping the pool open believe that could soon change.

"With 109 Street development increasing density on one side, and Scona Junction project moving forward, potentially increasing density on the other side, this increased density will surround the community of Queen Alexandra and will surround Scona Pool," Michael Guirguis argued.

"We feel that the pool's continued operation will act as a centre for our community."

Library vital for aboriginal youth 

The Edmonton Public Library is also facing a budget shortfall and is considering closing all facilities for 11 days over Christmas 2010 to save money.

That would be a mistake, said Michelle Nieviadomy, who works with the Edmonton Native Healing Centre.

"In the last year, I have seen about 25 of the aboriginal youth that I work with start to use the services of the library and that's huge to me because, a lot, you know, of our aboriginal youth struggle with gangs, prostitution, you name it," Nieviadomy said.

"So to be able to access this positive service, it has been a success in our eyes, and we just hope that the momentum that they have going right now will only continue and grow."

Councillors begin their budget deliberations next week.

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