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Saskatoon City Council approves $6 million budget increase for small-scale improvements to pool facilities

Saskatoon City Council approves  million budget increase for small-scale improvements to pool facilities
Saskatoon City Council approves  million budget increase for small-scale improvements to pool facilities

Stalled upgrades to an aging pool facility in Saskatoon’s core will finally move forward.

The nearly 50-year-old Harry Bailey Aquatic Centre, which includes indoor swimming pools for competition and leisure, has been closed since April 2023.

On Wednesday, the City Council approved a budget increase of about $6 million, bringing the total project budget to about $30 million.

The project was retendered in April after last year’s initial tender yielded more than twice the available construction budget. The city government said this is the lowest price to get the essential work done.

But some initial plans have been scrapped. The 50-meter pool will not be completely replaced. Instead, the new budget calls for a “patch and repair strategy.” Nor will there be any new, expanded fitness facilities.

Ward 2 Councillor Hilary Gough said she was appalled that the planned expansion had to be scaled back so drastically.

“The scope of the work change here is really disappointing, to be honest,” Gough said during Wednesday’s city council meeting.

“And I don’t actually think the scope of the work that was originally envisioned or laid out here was even fully understood by the community.”

LISTEN | From July 2023: Harry Bailey Aquatic Centre closure ‘heartbreaking’:

Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark said the facility is “well-loved” and thanked city residents for their patience.

“And we would much rather build a larger facility for less money, or at least the full scale of what was already there,” Clark said.

“This is not ideal having to scale back and find more money at the same time. It certainly shows the challenges of inflation and how it is impacting our city in a real way.”

The city said the aquatic center serves a critical recreational function in Saskatoon’s core, but before its closure last year it had the highest energy consumption intensity of any city recreation facility.

Renovations being carried out under the revised budget include energy performance improvements, repair of leaks in the pool basin, mechanical adjustments to the pool and building, roof improvements, restroom and changing room redesign and improvements in the field of security and safety.

According to a report from the city council to the municipal council, work will begin next week.

The pool is scheduled to reopen in late spring 2026.