After over 55 years in operation, plans were presented to city council on Monday night to replace the Phyllis Dewar Outdoor Pool and decouple it from the Natatorium. 

According to the report to council, outdoor pools generally have a lifespan of 40 to 50 years. 

The condition of the pool currently requires major repairs and full replacement of structural, mechanical and electrical systems. The city noted that the Natatorium no longer meets building, fire and accessibility codes. 

The Natatorium is used for the receptions and changerooms for the outdoor pool. 

For accessibility, there are no fewer than five flights of stairs in the Natatorium to get from the reception area to the changerooms and then to the pool. The pool also only has ladders to get into the water. 

The accessibility for the pool as well as the popularity of water features like spray parks limits the number of people who use the facility, said Director of Parks and Recreation Derek Blais. 

“When we look at our pool too, you look at the attendance that we currently have. We have, I think, $47,000 a year budgeted in revenue to compare that to the town of Nipawin, which has 4,400 people double the revenue,” Blais said. 

The city did a Facility Assessment and Planning and Design Study in 2016 that suggested that the outdoor pool and the Natatorium be separated. 

The proposed project would include the following: 

  • An eight-lane, 25-metre competitive pool with an accessible ramp. 
  • Beach entry leisure pool with a water spray package. 
  • Waterslide. 
  • New pool mechanical building. 
  • New accessible changeroom building with reception area, staff room and potential concession to serve the pool and Crescent Park. 

To allow for the new amenities, the competitive pool will be downsized from a 50-metre pool to a 25-metre pool. The city did consult with Swim Saskatchewan to confirm the meets to still be hosted in 25-metre pools. The pool at the Kinsmen Sportsplex is a 10-lane 25-metre pool. 

“In reviewing that, would we love to replace it with the 50? Absolutely. But when you look at the cost-benefit of that, it doesn't make sense. We really have to take another look because you're looking at an extra $1.3 million in capital,” said Blais. 

Many of the councillors expressed their excitement over the new plan, and few had complaints about downsizing the pool. 

“I can absolutely defend a 25-metre pool as opposed to a 50-metre pool when it comes with these exciting amenities that I think when the people of Moose Jaw see they are going to be really looking forward to it,” said Coun. Heather Eby. 

The project is expected to cost the city $5 million with 25 per cent coming in 2023 and 2024 and 50 per cent in 2025. 50 per cent of the funding is planned to be covered by grants. The plan is to shorten the season to start construction in August of 2024 and open the new facility on July 1, 2025. 

The plan has now been deferred to budget deliberations. 

Decommissioning Natatorium Fits In With City’s Climate Change Plan 

Separating the Natatorium from the outdoor swimming pool means the city will be able to decommission the 90-year-old building, helping with the city’s carbon footprint. 

Also presented to city council on Monday was the city’s Climate Action Plan. The plan includes reducing the city facilities’ greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent in 2025 and 45 per cent by 2035 and having zero wastewater. 

While in limited use, the Natatorium has the third-highest energy and greenhouse gas emission intensity of all the city facilities. It takes up one per cent of the electricity consumption, eight per cent of natural gas and 25 per cent of water consumption. 

Because of the water pipes still in use in the Natatorium as well as the changerooms, the heat is on nearly year-round using natural gas. 

“By decommissioning, we would be able to drain everything, not have any running water in the building, shut down all the mechanical systems and kind of similar to what we did with the YMCA building about a year ago until a plan was decided upon,” Blais said. 

Once the building is decommissioned, that will be the next step, finding a new use for the Natatorium. 

Blais said having the outdoor pool amenities out could encourage more groups to come forward wanting to use the building. 

“The benefit would be that we'd be completely removed from there, so they wouldn't have to worry about accommodating any of the outdoor pool use within there,” Blais said.  

“All the other old mechanical systems and whatnot would remain within the building, so there'd still be a cost with having those removed and replaced for anybody looking to upgrade or renovate that facility.”