Smiths Falls council deadlocked on funds for pool

Aqua fitness classes have been well attended at the Aquatic Recreation Centre in Smiths Falls.
Posted on: February 22, 2017

Chris Must

Smiths Falls town councillors reached an impasse during debate at a Feb. 21 meeting over how much municipal funding should be given to the Smiths Falls and District Aquatic Recreation Centre (ARC).

In the course of approving staff recommendations on how to disburse community grants for 2017, the six council members who attended the meeting were evenly split over the issue of how to fund the operations of the pool located at the Gallipeau Centre – or whether the facility should receive any public money at all.

The board of directors of ARC, who operate the former Rideau Regional Centre pool, had asked the town for $26,600 in 2017, a request supported by the staff committee that evaluated this year’s community donation applications. The staff made the recommendation on the basis that this amount would be matched by contributions from neighbouring municipalities whose residents also use the pool.

Mayor Shawn Pankow and councillors Lorraine Allen and Chris Cummings spoke in favour of providing the grant. “It provides a vital service to our community,” said Pankow.

Councillor Dawn Quinn objected to providing the funds on the basis that “This pool belongs to somebody that we’re in legal action with.” Councillor Joe Gallipeau, who owns the Gallipeau Centre and was not present for the Feb. 21 meeting, is in the process of suing the Town of Smiths Falls on the basis that his business has been overcharged for water services.

Councillor Jay Brennan said, “I have come to have great respect and admiration for the people who run the pool.” However, he added, the pool is privately owned is being marketed for profit. “These are my concerns and I hear them every day around town,” added Brennan.

Also expressing reservations about municipal support for the pool was Councillor John Maloney. He said he was concerned that public funds being given to ARC could be more efficiently spent, and that energy efficiency could be improved through the installation of a new pool cover and water meter, both costing several thousand dollars.

Maloney and Brennan agreed that they would rather see municipal funds go toward these capital expenditures rather than operations. Councillor Chris Cummings, who chaired the Feb. 21 Committee of the Whole meeting, said this proposal would fail to satisfy the board of ARC, who have indicated their inability to continuing operating without municipal funding.

“Maybe there’s some more homework that needs to be done before we can finish this subject,” said Cummings.

“I think it’s absolutely atrocious,” commented Allen. “I think it’s a very sad day.”

Council directed Art Manhire, the town’s manager of community services, to follow up with the ARC board and convey council’s concerns.


17 thoughts on “Smiths Falls council deadlocked on funds for pool

  1. Bev Belanger

    Yes the town should fund the pool……the town should also replace the bridge to Centennial park…….

  2. Terri Bennett

    YES, the town should fund the pool. If they can support so many other things in town, why not the pool. There are a lot of seniors in our town, and a lot of them take great advantage of the pool. A lot do lane swimming, and there are a lot of us who do aquafit which is a very good exercise for not only seniors, but anyone who wants a good low impact fitness program which is easy on the joints.

  3. debbie

    The town does not own the pool, it is a private business. Also, the fact that the councillor who owns the pool is in litigation with the Town right now is not conducive to having funds diverted his way. If the town owned the pool and it was easily accessible to all (which it isn’t – many people in this town do not have access to a vehicle) then it would be a different matter. Previously funding has gone unaccounted for and it seems each passing year brings a bigger sinkhole. Private pool, private funding.

  4. Gary Comeau

    The pool is privately owned ,if they can’t maintain there own project ,why should the town ,when there are far more important things the money could be spent on.There are already too many things the town puts money out for that are not that important.The town has to get serious about what they spend “our ” money on.

  5. Marsha

    this pool belongs to one of the town Councillors, Joe Gallipeau, who has plenty of funds. (of course some people are not aware of that, particularly those who do not know who this man is) He should be looking after his own property. He should also NOT be on town council. He is suing the town of Smiths Falls currently over a water bill…pathetic. The funds coming in from anyone who use the pool (if there really are that many using it) should be sufficient to pay the rent to the owner…Joe Gallipeau, who then should be responsible for repairs/upkeep. The same as a person who is renting an apartment…it is the landlord who is suppose to maintain the apartment. This pool belongs to Joe Gallipeau, he should be maintaining it the same as a landlord does, as I said above. Anyone who thinks differently should think twice before you respond and look up facts.

      1. Marsha

        Exactly, many are NOT aware! He should be accountable! This is why it’s such a debate! It’s hard as this man is well known in this town. Not necessarily being the most generous guy. It’s all about $$$ for him sadly.

    1. craig

      1) Joe Gallipeau removes himself from session anytime there is discussion about his property,
      2)property maintenance is not the same with businesses as it is with apartments. if you rent a restaurant you are responsible for the upkeep and replacement.
      3)the case Gallipeau has against the town is a matter of property classification. business pays different rate than residential which is different form industrial. i don’t remember the specifics right now, but basically the property should have been re-classified when it changed hands to Gallipeau and it hadn’t been done, so he paid more than he should have
      4) this is the big one. we have a canal that runs through our town. every kid at some point plays near or in that canal. that canal has dangerous undertows in some areas. we NEED a pool our kids can learn to swim in a controlled environment with qualified instructors. the amount of money the pool is asking from the town is a very small fraction of the cost of the town building, staffing and maintaining a pool (which they have openly admitted is not going to happen anytime in the foreseeable future)

      1. Marsha

        I dont see where anyone ever said there wasn’t a pool that could be useful for all ages, that’s not even the debate.

  6. Cathy Weedmark

    This is something that families can enjoy and without funding how is the pool to stay afloat and it would be a great loss to see this facility close down due to not enough money to run it. Thank-you

    1. M

      Let the man who OWNS the building take care of it with funds that come in from ALL the people who use it.
      Definitely useful, but, funds should not come from the town itself! Our town does not have the funds. Each person who has the funds can support it as they choose.

  7. N Ford

    The town of Smiths Falls should fund the pool. If they had their own pool it would cost the taxpayers a fortune to maintain it and this way the taxpayers get a pool at a lower cost.

    While Mr. Gallipeau owns the pool building, he rents (free) it to the Smiths Falls & District Aquatic Recreation Centre Inc. and this group is I believe a “not for profit” group. Mr. Gallipeau is only the landlord the same as someone that owns a restaurant, dress shop or any business but rents the building.

    I don’t believe that the pool will ever make money as costs are just too high. Private companies wouldn’t be in the business if they didn’t make money but this is different in that it provides for school children, the handicapped and is a much larger pool facility.

    Yes, Smiths Falls and areas that use the pool should be funding it on a usage basis (by the number of people attending from each town/township).

  8. Miles

    The pool is a private business, do we help every other business in town to stay afloat if they cannot make ends meet? Can’t believe we pay a council member to keep the property open he bought to make money. Now we are thinking of helping him pay for his investment. Tax money is suppose to help the population of the town, not just a few members. How about the other towns who were giving money, what are they doing? Next thing will be to cancel taxes for businesses so they stay open, and raise taxes again year after year for the home owners to pay for it. Stop giving our tax money away to private businesses.

  9. David Curran

    its sad to see political corruption all the way down as deep as small town politics. Always seems to be personal financial interest in anyone doing politics these days.

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