Steve Black


  • Council is not as of yet building an aquatic center – there has been no vote to do so, so that part of your letter is accurate.
  • Now let me clarify other timelines – Last term we completed a strategic plan.  This was done with multiple presentations to the last council and multiple public consultations.   Part of that report indicated the city should consider a new recreational complex including pool and arena.   The strategic plan was agreed to unanimously by the last council and accepted by council as a report.
  • Then this term council discussed doing a feasibility study during the 2015 budget for the aquatic center phase of the recommended facility from the strategic plan.   Yes this was tabled at me but to suggest it was my idea or did not stem from previous council work and direction would be inaccurate.   At this time council agreed to add money to the 2015 budget for the feasibility study with a 9-0 unanimous vote.
  • The RFP was sent out and bids came back and were evaluated.  Sierra Planning was recommended as the group to do the feasibility study and again this came back for discussion at council in a public meeting again and once again was voted to move ahead with a 9-0 vote.
  • Over the last year there has been 4 public consultations regarding the aquatic center (4th one being tonight)  These have discussed everything from what the public wants to see in a new facility to where it should be located.
  • It has also come back to council twice to provide an interim report and receive direction in terms of locations to review and what the study would include.  Council again gave direction.
  • At the same time I have done numerous interviews with every news agency you copied on this email about where we stand.
  • This year at budget time council discussed adding money to complete the detailed engineering design for the new facility.  This was discussed at several public budget meetings and the amount to include to the budget was changed throughout, however when council voted to add the dollars to the budget this vote was again unanimous 9-0.  Council also approved the 2016 budget with a 9-0 vote.
  • At the same time in the last year there was an informal poll done in which just under 1900 residents responded.   In that poll over 1800 said they agreed we should proceed with a new aquatic center.  Even 15% of the 25% who never use the pool indicated they thought the aquatic center was a good idea and the city should move ahead with it even though they will never use it.
  • If we go ahead with the engineering study that to will be done by a vote of council once RFPs are in.  And if at some point in the future we decide to build the facility that too will be done by a vote of council.


I will answer the why question and why not fix the old


  • As mentioned the facility stems from a strategic plan the last council did, and follows recommendations from various consultants.
  • The current consultant did an analysis of feasibility of fixing and improving the existing and has informed council it would not be cost efficient and a new facility should be preferred option
  • Reasons for this is the current facility does not meet current building codes, accessibility legislation and costs to bring it up to date would be significant
  • Other reasons for a new facility – overall accessibility for people with disabilities will be improved, family change room area can be properly designed and built to accommodate families or single parents with children of the opposite sex which the current facility does not do well.
  • New facility may be an 8 lane competitive pool – if this is agreed to it would improve us to a class A competitive pool vs B allowing us to host higher level events and competitions.
  • New facility may include additional leisure pool area which is usable by toddlers which will improve quality of life for this demongraphic, improve usage numbers at the facility.
  • There are many more and I would invite you to watch the final report that comes to council (likely in July) or come out to tonights  public open house.


Other reasons why investing in an aquatic center makes sense.


The pool is one of the most used facilities we have.  It sees over 10,000 swims per month (this includes repeat swimmers so if you go every day of the week you would count as 7).  It is a facility that provides fitness and recreation opportunities for all in a community that has it’s outdoor water frozen or too cold to swim in for a majority of the year.   It is a facility that is used by kids and seniors, including many therapy programs for rehabilitation.   Communities smaller and larger all around us are renewing facilities.   Kirkland Lake is looking at a new pool and recreation center.  Cochrane recently built a new pool and recreation center.  Kapuskasing is looking at a new pool.  Sudbury is looking at a variety of new recreation centers.  North Bay has building and invested in multiple recreational centers and fields.  Thunder Bay is looking at a new events center that will cost almost 5 times what this will cost Timmins.   For years Timmins has been afraid to move forward because of thinking mentioned below while communities around us continue to invest in quality of life and recreation.  Even one of the main highlights of the core service review while identifying cost savings opportunities was that we as a community fall behind our comparators in terms of recreation spending.   Some residents take an approach of I don’t use it so we don’t need it.  Others take the approach that we can’t afford it.  And yes I accept there may be 1000s in the community that don’t want it.  There are 1000s who didn’t think the Library was a good idea, yet we have one of the nicest libraries in the province which also last time I checked had over 10,000 members,  there are 1000s who don’t think the new museum was a good idea, or who don’t use public transportation and don’t want to be paying for that, many who don’t use arenas, many who don’t think we should be in the long term care business.


However all these items that not everyone uses and not everyone wants or likes are key parts to making Timmins the community that it is.   And while decisions regarding engineering designs and construction still need to be made, my hope is that council evaluates what numerous consultants have said, the facts behind the current facility and its shortcomings and the longterm quality of life and access to recreation in our community when making these decisions and doesn’t feel bullied by anyone sitting around the council table including myself or anyone at home behind a computer.


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