Thunder Bay

Dease Pool to be shuttered for 2019 swimming season

The oldest public pool in Thunder Bay, Ont., will not see anymore belly flops or cannonballs.

Pool originally built in 1911 to help prevent drownings

City councillors in Thunder Bay, Ont., voted to close Dease Pool before the 2019 swimming season. (Adam Burns/CBC)

The oldest public pool in Thunder Bay, Ont., will not see anymore belly flops or cannonballs.

City councillors voted on Monday night to shutter the century-old pool, which was originally built in 1911 to teach children how to swim, after a number of drownings when people would go swimming in area rivers.

Some on council, such as Neebing Councillor Cody Fraser wanted to know if the city could get another year of use out of the pool.

"The most important question, is this pool safe for kids to swim in this summer, 2019?," he asked.

City administration said the concept of safety was relative, with the pool built to turn of the century standards, with the city acknowledging the pool does not meet health standards, as well as the current building code.

It also does not have any hot running water, or showers for swimmers.

Some on council spoke against the plan to shutter the pool, such as Coun. Andrew Foulds, who opposed the closure of the pool the last few times it has been brought up at council.

Foulds said that while there were fewer bathers at Dease compared to the nearby Widnall Pool and Heath Pool in Westfort.

"I believe it serves that neighbourhood," Foulds said.

"If you have a swimming pool, you need to staff it, and those services will continue to be delivered to those kids."

Coun. Brian Hamilton, who represents the McKellar ward, where Dease and Widnall Pools are situated, said he heard loud and clear from the neighbourhood, they wanted the pool to stay open.

"This move cannot be about cost savings alone. This has to be a plan, and I will not support a plan, unless it addresses the needs of the neighbourhood which are so critical."

Hamilton eventually supported the move to close the pool, as administration said it would move most of the operating costs of Dease, just over $50,000 into some type of year-round neighbourhood programming.

The city's recreation division has not firmly said what that programming would be, but said there would be more recreation opportunities at Minnesota Park, where Widnall Pool is located.

The city has also not yet determined what it would do with the Dease Pool property, which sits across from Dease Park.

About the Author

Jeff Walters

Reporter/Editor

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Jeff is proud to work in his hometown, as well as throughout northwestern Ontario. Away from work, you can find him skiing (on water or snow), curling, out at the lake or flying.

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