Minor structural renovations begin at Memorial Sports Centre pool

Elisa Nguyen
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The town of Fort Frances is working towards renovating structural components for the pool at the Memorial Sports Centre, says interim Chief Administrative Officer Travis Rob.

The design work is almost complete and tenders will be out working within the next couple of weeks, funded by existing grant money the town received in 2019.

“In 2019, it was little over $5 million. It was a multi year, multi project grant. So there were 32 projects that formed that $5 million project. It was not for only the pool, it was for the facility broadly. So the structural issues that I mentioned, relating to the pool, was a component of that $5 million grant,” he said.

“It fit into the five-year schedule of that grant for this year. So that’s the design work that we have completed, that’s the work we’re going to be putting out to tender,” Rob said.

He added that the $5 million grant only included a small allocation of around $925,000 for the pool. The rest of the funds were allocated to the remaining 32 projects for the multi project grant.

Originally, the town had submitted grant funding applications to various agencies under one common goal—to renovate the pool.

Rob says around $1.7 million was received from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund (NOHFC) but when the town was unsuccessful in other grant applications, they had to “change direction a bit and focus on what we have currently.”

Structural concerns were one of the issues they needed to address first, he says, adding that from there they planned to address accessibility issues, change rooms, and general maintenance items.

The town submitted a change request to NOHFC to reallocate their portion of the funding toward a different scope, Rob says. Currently, the town is still waiting for the evaluation to be complete and to hear back with a decision.

Until the scope change request is received, the extent of pool renovations will still be unclear.

“We know we have some structural issues and concerns that we needed to take care of. And those construction funds are underway and will be starting this year. What the overall scope of that project looks like, it’s still up in the air because how far we can take it is going to depend on what happens with this scope change request,” Rob said.

The scope of pool renovations will be increased if there’s an opportunity for additional funding, says Nathan Young, recreation and cultural manager at the Memorial Sports Centre.

“I don’t think there is necessarily that there are challenges that are stopping the project moving forward. As Travis had mentioned, there is work being done and these projects are underway moving forward,” he said.

“Moving forward on those structural components and the projects that we have received the funding for to the max capacity that we can within those funding limits, and then continuing to look for additional funding sources that can allow us to to expand our scope on the work that we want done.”

Rob explained that the changes address issues in the columns, cracks at the pool, getting a new pool liner, and completing repairs underneath the pool deck.

He acknowledged that it might not be the “glorious” update that residents are hoping for, but are still important nonetheless.

“It’s very much that base structure that we need to address so that we have that secure base level and then we can start building from there,” he said.