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Decommission Thames Pool, redirect funds to possible new amenities, politicians say

LONDON, ONTARIO —Thames Pool, a longstanding recreational facility in the city, is once again under scrutiny as politicians debate its future. The Community and Protective Services Committee (CAPS) has shown support for decommissioning Thames Pool, citing multiple infrastructure issues and risks associated with its current location. The decision addresses the escalating repair costs and explores the possibility of redirecting funds to new amenities within Thames Park.

The pool, built in 1927, has been a favorite spot for residents and visitors alike, attracting an impressive 25,000 visitors annually. However, its historical significance hasn't shielded it from ongoing challenges, including damages caused by floods, hydrostatic pressures, and freeze-thaw cycles. City staff reports indicate that the estimated repair costs have risen significantly, making the decommissioning option increasingly appealing to some councillors.

Among the proposed solutions, Deputy Mayor Shawn Lewis advocated for the decommissioning of Thames Pool and the reallocation of funds to explore exciting new amenities in Thames Park. Potential amenities include pickleball and basketball courts, a splash pad, and a feasibility study for an indoor pool nearby. Lewis's proposal gained significant support from the committee, receiving a favorable vote of five to one.

While the decommissioning plan has garnered support, there are differing viewpoints on how to proceed. Some councillors advocate for basic repairs to keep the pool operational, while others suggest relocating piping to minimize potential damage from environmental factors. The final decision now rests with the full city council, which is set to discuss the matter on July 25.

As the debate continues, the fate of Thames Pool remains uncertain. Amid the push for decommissioning, voices in the community passionately argue for its preservation. A motion brought forth by Coun. David Ferreira has sought short-term solutions to keep the pool open for 2024. Additionally, Ferreira's motion calls for a comprehensive report on rebuilding or relocating the pool in the future, incorporating community engagement to gather the thoughts and sentiments of local residents.

In light of the public's strong support for retaining Thames Pool, a petition has amassed over 3,600 signatures, further highlighting the pool's value in the community. Thames Pool has been a recreational hub and has historical and cultural significance as the city's only 50-meter outdoor pool.

The decision will undoubtedly be impactful as the politicians and community stakeholders grapple with the pool's future. The prospect of redirecting funds to develop new amenities within Thames Park brings the possibility of transforming the area into a vibrant recreational space for people of all ages. However, it also raises questions about preserving a beloved landmark that has played a significant role in the city's identity for nearly a century.

The final verdict on Thames Pool's fate is set to unfold in the near future, and the decision will shape the city's recreational landscape for years to come. As politicians weigh the pros and cons, they must carefully consider the sentiments of the public and the long-term implications of their choices. Regardless of the outcome, the debate over Thames Pool reflects the larger challenge of balancing heritage and progress in a rapidly evolving urban landscape.