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Edmonton’s aging Scona pool again recommended for permanent closure

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Edmonton’s Scona Pool may be permanently closed after the pool’s heating system failed earlier this year.

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City staff are recommending that this pool in the Queen Alexandra neighborhood be permanently closed due to “significant system failures” and ongoing maintenance needs, according to a report to the executive committee Aug. 24.

Hot water has been manually added to the pool since the heat exchanger broke in June.

The 65-year-old building needs a major rehabilitation that could cost at least $6 million, just to keep the pool open for another five to 10 years. The walls and roof, interior fixtures, and mechanical and electrical systems all need to be repaired. The city has already spent around $1 million to maintain it since 2015.

“The function of the facility is inadequate, with significant deficiencies affecting operations, accessibility, inclusiveness and user experience. The condition of Scona Pool is such that there has been a high likelihood of multiple system failures, including structural, mechanical and electrical systems, over many years,” the report states.

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“The outer shell of the swimming pool continues to deteriorate. It has visible cracks due to settling issues, and the casing failure has resulted in significant spalling of the brickwork near the roof of the facility. Fences have been placed around sections of the facility to prevent injuries from falling bricks.

Effect of closure

Although the city says it’s too expensive to repair, its closure could have a significant effect on the community. The activities of student swim teams, local businesses and clubs that use it regularly can be harmed, staff acknowledged.

In fact, the city council has previously ignored several recommendations to close the pool over the years, as community groups have advocated keeping the doors open.

Scona was one of five pools on the chopping block in 2020. The council ultimately opted to keep all five open until new neighborhood amenities were built.

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In 2018, Julie Kusiek, then director of the Queen Alexandra Community League, said the community had demonstrated a demand for the pool despite a decade of threats of closure. Officials also recommended closing the site in 2010 due to low attendance.

The cost could be higher

Even if major repairs are approved, there’s a “high likelihood” it will cost more than expected given experience with other aquatic facilities of the same age, according to the report.

Besides cost, city managers note that there are three other city pools within three miles: Bonnie Doon Recreation Center, Confederation Recreation Center and Kinsmen Sports Center.

The pool also has below-average attendance, with around 36,000 users per year.

Design work for its replacement, the Rollie Miles Recreation Centre, is already underway, although funding to build the facility has not been approved.

Another option is to give the pool to Edmonton Public Schools, but the board has not shown interest.

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