Kathy Gilligan, who came to Smiths Falls town council on Jan. 23 to ask for $26,600 on behalf of the board of the Smiths Falls and District Aquatic Recreation Centre, received a sympathetic reception.
Representing the non-profit board which last summer began operating the former Rideau Regional Centre on the grounds of what is now the Gallipeau Centre, Gilligan noted that all surrounding municipalities have been asked for a 2017 contribution to help with the costs of operating the pool.
There were over 22,000 visits to the pool in 2016. “The word is spreading, and there is more interest than ever before,” said Gilligan. “A community pool is wanted, and has been wanted, for years.”
Gilligan cautioned that the pool had to be shut down for repairs, leading to lost revenue, and presently has a $13,000 deficit. Without municipal support, she said, the pool will close. After the group which had previously run the pool declared bankruptcy, the new board took over with just $500 in the bank.
Although he was initially skeptical that the non-profit group would be able to keep the pool open, said Councillor Chris Cummings, “My confidence is growing.”
“I admire all of your dedication to making this happen,” said Councillor Lorraine Allen, adding, “It’s a small ask.”
Mayor Shawn Pankow commented that the pool pays $125,000 in wages to local employees, and plays a role in keeping people “healthy, active and mobile.” He added that other local municipalities are paying much larger amounts to provide their residents with the privilege of using the indoor pool in Perth.
A final decision on the aquatic centre’s funding request will be made following council’s 2017 budget deliberations.