Monday, 28 January 2013

A history of the Sherbrook Pool. Part 4: The last chapter ?

Sherbrook Pool
A four part series on the history of the Sherbrook Pool
Part 1: Conception and Construction (1930 - 31)
Part 2: The glory years (1931 - 1970)
Part 3: A New Era (1971 - 1991)
Part 4: The last chapter ? (1992 - 2013)
Part 5: A rebirth (to come !)

© 2012 Christian Cassidy

May 19, 1992, Winnipeg Free Press

In April 1992 a community group called the Friends of Sherbrook Pool was formed under the direction of Christine Common Singh, a co-founder of the Coalition to Save the Elms, and about 100 members. Their role was to take the city up on its offer to find new programming and other ways to increase attendance during the Sherbrook Pool's last two years of guaranteed funding.

Before the two years was up, though, the pool and its $430,000 operating budget was back on the chopping block. Parks, Protection and Culture commissioner chairman Lorne Reynolds said that it cost the city $8.90 per swim at the Sherbrook Pool while the Pan Am and BoniVital pools cost $3.24 and $2.48 respectively. He said that the actual demolition of the building could be held off if the community came up with ideas for increasing usership and new programming, (source: December 3, 1992, Winnipeg Free Press.)

March 15, 1993, Winnipeg Free Press

After a familiar debate and push-back (including a protest) by the community, the pool was granted one more year of guaranteed operating funds, again, with the increased attendance caveat. 

In January 1994 the FOSP announced the first of these programs. Kidswim took 94 kids, (their slogan was '94 in '94), chosen by the administration of three area schools, and provided them with free swim lessons. The idea was that offering free lessons would not only provide recreation and life skills but would, in turn, keep the kids coming back. The FOSP raised funds from community grants, private companies and groups such as the Winnipeg Foundation.

The initial set of 94 lessons grew and between 1994 and 2009 FOSP estimates that it put 2,500 kids through Kidswim between 1994 and 2009, (source, p17.)

The following year, the Sherbrook Sharks Swim Club was created under coach Brandee Alexander. It allowed the most promising swimmers who graduated from Kidwim a place to carry on with their swimming. It is now an independent, non-profit organization.

In 1994 the FOSP received permission to apply to the Canada Infrastructure Works Program for a capital grant for major renovations to the Sherbrook Pool. The following year they received $500,000 based on the commitment that the city would have to match the funds. (According to FOSP the city committed to spend $1.2m as its share.) 

In 1996 Phase One of the renovations was completed. Repairs cost about $600,000 and  included: 

Mechanical - humidity control and fire alarm upgrades;
Structural - underpinning of foundation walls;
Envelope - repair or replacement of exterior windows, masonry and signage;
Creation of a gym area inside the old caretaker’s suite.

Sherbrook Pool

Most noticeable was the reintroduction of windows along the Sherbrook Street main level which overlook the women's changing room. They were removed in the late 60s or early 1970s to stop "Peeping Toms." Also, the long neon sign that hung out front of the building was removed and replaced with a bronze civic crest and lettering, (that blend into the colour of the brick !) 

Phase Two of the renovations, which dealt with interior renovations and upgrades, never took place. The city did not include them in its capital budget and therefore the federal funds were not released.

July 14, 2004, Winnipeg Free Press

The next threat to Sherbrook Pool came in the 2004 Public Use Facilities (PUFS) Report. It looked at all city amenities including libraries, arenas, recreation centres and pools. A major conclusion of the report was that single-use, community facilities were out and "power centre" regional facilities that combined services were in. It listed a number of inner city facilities that should be shut down or relocated, including the Cornish and West End libraries, two wading pools and Sherbrook Pool, (page 12-14):

The Sherbrook Indoor Pool is deemed surplus for the following reasons:

• Built in 1930 (Facility is 74 years old).
• Preservation needs are approximately to $4,000,000. Facilities condition index is 0.53. This only retains the current functionality.
• Urban Oasis is proposed within two blocks of the existing Sherbrook Pool with frontage on Portage Avenue.
• 2nd lowest attendance for indoor pools (only Bernie Wolfe Indoor Pool was lower).

Sherbrook Pool
Sherbrook Pool

On June 4, 2006 the Sherbrook Pool celebrated its 75th anniversary with an open house, free swim and a barbecue.

Though the pool remained open, the 00s were not good ones for youth recreation in the west central part of the West End. In December 2006 Orioles Community Centre was amalgamated with Isaac Brock. On June 3, 2007 the Winnipeg Roller Rink / Galaxy Skateland closed. In 2009 the West End Library on Ellice relocated to the newly rebuilt Cindy Klassen Recreation Centre nearly 3 kilometres away.

Community organizations continued to find additional ways to bolster pool use and programming. In 2009 the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released A Community Vision for the Sherbrook Pool outlining additional ideas.

Our West Central Times, p.1 (Credit: Joel Penner)

On Thursday, November 29, 2012 swimmers were ordered out of the pool and the building was closed. On December 3, the city announced that the pool was "...closed to the public for an extended period of time to allow for a detailed structural engineering assessment of the facility."

The Sherbrook Sharks scrambled to find space and are temporarily operating from the Cindy Klassen Recreation Centre.

Though the engineer's report has not been completed, on January 23, 2013 the Executive Policy Committee approved a one-time $200,000 grant from the Mayor’s a Civic Initiatives, Promotional and Protocol Fund that will, presumably, go toward the cost of the report.

Sherbrook Pool Historic Buildings Committee
A Community Development Vision for Sherbrook Pool CCPA
My Flickr album of the Sherbrook Pool

City's aging pools struggling to stay afloat Free Press (Jan 26, 2013) 
Sherbrook Pool stuck in drainage cycle Winnipeg Sun (Jan 26, 2013)
Sherbrook Pool might stay afloat Free Press (Jan 24, 2013) 
City gets Olympic push to fix pools Free Press (Jan 23, 2013) 
Many Woes at Sherbrook Pool Free Press (Jan 21, 2013)
Maddin to mayor: keep pool in picture Free Press (Jan 12, 2013) 
Sharks to fight for Sherbrook Pool Winnipeg Sun (Dec 2012) 
Sherbrook Pool to remain closed Global (Dec 2012)
Sherbrook Pool closure worries community group CBC (Dec 2012)


On February 14, 2013 the Spence Neighbourhood Association and Friends of Sherbrook Pool will hold a community meeting about the pool's future.

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