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From time to time, I look southeast toward Ottawa.

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I don’t know why I do this to myself.

How does a city of 1.4 million people compare to Sudbury of 165,000?

In this case, I’m looking specifically at what Carleton University is planning for its pool, one of a similar vintage to the Jeno Tihanyi Olympic gold pool on the Laurentian University campus.

Yes, let’s compare a university of 30,000, with a growing population, to the situation at LU.

At the university level, Carleton has come up with a new pool design that features two pools (!): one 50 meter eight lane competition pool, the other a 25 meter six lane warm-up/therapy/course pool.

In a broader context, however, this proposal is actually one of seven proposed under consideration as Ottawa seeks to develop a new competitive pool to meet the need and economic boost of hosting major aquatic events with a growing community need for lifelong swimming and fitness lessons.

Prior to COVID-19, there was already an identified need for pools in Ottawa to compete with Toronto and Windsor. In January, Ottawa announced that it was looking for partners for an aquatic center project.

Carleton’s proposal is presented here, without bias, but as an example of planning and the importance of water sports to the surrounding community.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the university began planning for the succession of its aging swimming pool, which opened in 1974, and hired an architectural consulting firm, said Jennifer Brenning, assistant vice president. recreation and sports, during a recent interview.

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“We have an aging facility that incorporates our pool, our locker rooms,” Brenning said. “Additionally, we transformed the old fitness center into our high performance center and weigh-in room for college and other high performance athletes.”

They have developed a master plan for the facilities. The consultants designed a complete transformation of the athletics complex, including two new swimming pools, an expanded fitness room and an academic building that would integrate athletics, health and wellness research.

The community — Carleton and the entire user community — was consulted.

“In our community, as you know, we have three aging pools. There is a need for a competitive pool in our city. There is no competition pool that can accommodate at this time.
There are not enough facilities to accommodate the people of Ottawa, Brenning added.

The city has proposed a plan for a 10-lane competition pool and an eight-lane pool. Carleton couldn’t do this alone. Whatever the plan, funding partners will have to be found.

In terms of cost, Carleton is looking for financial partners. They can operate the facility as planned, Brenning said. They need the capital to build the aquatic facility.

They hope to partner with the city “and build a facility that not only meets the needs of Carleton, but the entire community.

And again, Ottawa’s situation is similar to Sudbury’s, with our aging municipal pools. Across from Carleton is Brewer Park. This 250 meter six lane pool is nearing the end of its life.

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Pools can be expensive, but aquatic activities have been identified as a need in Carleton.

“We believe it is important not only for our community which uses our swimming pool a lot, but also for the university to have a swimming pool for its students, teachers and staff. We have a number of teachers who participate in our masters swimming program.

Carleton dropped out of varsity swimming several years ago. Their student-athlete-swimmers have a club and compete in OUA events, Brenning said.

About 70% of usage comes from the surrounding Ottawa community, she said.

Their pool offers life-saving, swimming, “a ton of programs that serve the wider community and it would be a great loss to our community if we were to shut it down.”

They haven’t done any major renovations on the pool “because we’ve done a lot of appraisals over a lot of years. With what they tell us about the next 20 years (the cost) to maintain it, we might as well build something new. “

Carleton continues to invest in corrective work to ensure the operation of its pool. A list is on the website from May 2022.

“We are just trying to keep our existing facility as safe as possible as we work towards a new facility. We don’t invest a lot in the existing infrastructure, but we invest at least so that it continues to function.

Ideally, they hope it all comes to fruition within the next five years. Much of it is on hold due to the upcoming municipal elections in the fall. Brenning doesn’t anticipate a decision until at least January 2023.

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“Hopefully we will at least have some direction if we are in contention moving forward. We are a year away from shoveling in the ground.

The need for aquariums is great in Ottawa, she added. “If it’s not Carleton, I hope there is a solution with the City of Ottawa for our community.

And it sounds familiar. For Sudbury and Northeastern Ontario as well.

Everyone talks about the cost, hundreds of millions it could cost to build anything.

But what is a life saved because someone, somewhere, took swimming lessons in a pool?

Now there is a conversation.

Laura Young’s Personal Best column appears weekly in the Sudbury Star.

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