An online campaign to save Thames Pool from permanent closure is gaining momentum, however, CTV News London has learned that another public pool near the river faces similar risks from fluctuating water levels.
On Wednesday, city staff released a report recommending that Thames Pool on Ridout Street be decommissioned because of the annual cost to repair damage caused by flooding and a high water table.
Coun. Elizabeth Peloza worries about the impacts rising river levels will have on other public pools in London.
“We have other outdoor pools too. Will there be a problem with them? Recognizing another one of our pools at Gibbons Park is also in a floodplain,” said Peloza.
Jon Paul McGonigle, director of recreation and sport said Gibbons Pool is at a higher elevation than Thames Pool — but the threat of flood damage exists.
“I certainly hope not, but Gibbons was built in the floodplain, so that possibility will exist,” McGonigle admitted.
Gibbons Pool in London, Ont.’s Old North neighbourhood, as seen on March 17, 2023. (Daryl Newcombe/CTV News London)Located in Gibbons Park in the Old North neighbourhood, the heated 25-metre lap pool includes diving boards and diving wells.
McGonigle can’t rule out the possibility that the community may face a similar choice of whether or not to repair or decommission Gibbons Pool in the coming years if seasonal flooding of the Thames River worsens.
“I don’t want to rule that out, but we have not had the same infrastructure concerns at Gibbons that have arisen at Thames,’ he said.
Meanwhile, the online petition and social media firestorm continues to grow after city staff’s recommendation to decommission Thames Pool was made public on Wednesday.
The mounting pressure has already had an impact at city hall — altering the tone of public relations messaging coming from Civic Administration.
“I think it’s really important for us [city staff] to recognize how difficult of a conversation this is for the community. It’s an incredibly difficult recommendation to put on the table,” McGonigle said in an interview with CTV News London on Thursday.
A map in Gibbons Park shows the proximity of the pool to the Thames River in London, Ont. (Daryl Newcombe/CTV News London)Five options were considered regarding Thames Pool:
- Conducting minimum repairs ($375,000)
- Extensive repairs ($600,000)
- Rehabilitation ($4 million)
- Rebuild ($12 million)
McGonigle emphasized that decommissioning the pool is staff’s recommendation based on the ongoing repair costs, but a final decision rests with city council.
“This is just a recommendation that we have made to committee and council for their ultimate consideration,” he said. “As always, we will be happy to follow whatever direction council chooses.”
The CAPS Committee meeting to consider the future of Thames Pool will be held at 4:15 p.m. on March 21 at city hall.