Wellington North council adopts work plan for Mount Forest outdoor pool

Fall costing estimate pegs scaled-back schematic pool design at $5.3 million

KENILWORTH– Wellington North council has given a partial nod to next steps in the design process for a proposed outdoor pool in Mount Forest that would replace the Lion Roy Grant pool, closed due to disrepair last summer.

The Advertiser last reported on the lengthy process in September.

At the time, a scaled-back conceptual design was approved by council and distributed for a “class ‘D’” cost estimate, meaning pricing is considered accurate within 20 per cent either way.

Since then, Toronto-based architectural firm Tillmann Ruth Robinson Inc. has completed a schematic design and returned a $5.3-million price estimate for the pool, presented to council on Jan. 16.

That’s down from the $6.32 million suggested by Scott Robinson of the architectural firm during a council meeting last summer.

Township operations director Matthew Aston noted in a recent report to council the estimate is based on fall 2022 prices and wrote, “significant risk remains related to the cost of this project.”

“While it is anticipated that some of this cost could potentially be offset by a mixture of grants and community fundraising efforts, the township should be prepared to fund the project fully if needed,” Aston cautioned, suggesting funding sources would include an increase to debt and property taxes, as well as spending from reserves.

With the second design phase now complete, the next involves design development — structural, civil, mechanical and electrical design briefs are developed, additional pool features and enhancements can now be factored in, and another costing estimate would be completed to bring the margin of error within 10 per cent.

That process is expected to take four months and cost around $75,000.

Phase four, also to take four months, includes detailed construction design with an even tighter costing estimate within five per cent, all at a cost of around $200,000.

During phase five, the project goes to tender at little cost, taking two months, and finally, phase six involves contract administration and inspection at a cost of $150,000 during pool construction over eight months.

Total design process costs are estimated at around $455,000 of the $576,000 approved by council in the 2022 budget. As of Jan. 16, around $75,000 of that budget has been spent.

Councillor Sherry Burke, who also chairs the Mount Forest Aquatics Ad Hoc Committee, said she’s “happy to see that we’re going to be moving forward.”

A pool dedicated to Mount Forest is something “the residents have come to expect and enjoy,” she said.

Councillor Steve McCabe spoke in favour of the next steps proposed by Aston, but questioned the fiscal responsibility of possibly approving $5.3 million in taxpayer dollars on a pool when other infrastructure projects have been put off because the township is unable to afford them.

“How do we justify spending $5.3 million on this pool … and then does that further push our budget back on infrastructure pieces that we have to maintain and replace?” he asked with no response.

He suggested residents would prefer their money be spent on already existing infrastructure, or infrastructure that needs to be built.

Councillor Penny Renken agreed with McCabe’s general sentiment, but said a pool is an “extremely important part of our community.”

There was no further discussion by council and the work plan was, without objection from council, approved in principle, meaning there remain several steps that could affect future decisions before the full work plan unfolds.