The aging mechanical system at Brandon’s Community Sportsplex is still in need of some major upgrades.
Facility manager Jeff Elliott said they are in the process of finalizing several different options to discuss with city council.
"Unfortunately it’s not a quick process," Elliott said. "We want to make sure what we’re doing is what has to be done. The mechanical system is fairly old. That was kind of the focus point when we started this process."
The facility was built in 1978, and while upgrades have been done over the years, it seems it’s time for a mechanical overhaul at the pool.
"The pool air system is part of the mechanical system. There’s different options for that," Elliott said. "We’re not exactly sure which option we’ll end up with … We’re just right now … getting the wheels rolling here on figuring out exactly what we need for upgrades."
The topic of renovating the Sportsplex came to the forefront when the city was pursuing the 2017 Canada Summer Games. Elliott said they were holding off on upgrades until a decision was made. Unfortunately, Brandon’s bid was rejected back in January — a main reason was the lack of an indoor eight-lane, 50-metre pool. The Sportsplex has six lanes.
"The last thing we wanted to do was renovate twice," Elliott said. "So we were kind of holding on to our nickels and dimes and waiting to see where that was going to take us. Now that that’s sorted out, right now we’re pursuing how we’re going to proceed with all the pool repairs."
The pool’s mechanical system was designed to have three turnovers per day. Community services director Perry Roque previously told the Sun that the system filters water every eight hours. They would like a system that filters water every six hours or fewer. Circulating water faster and adding more filters will provide the Sportsplex with a higher quality of water.
The estimated cost for all upgrades is $1.3 million. The province has committed $500,000, while the city would be expected to cover the rest of the cost.
The main user groups are the Red Cross swim program, the Lifesaving Society of Manitoba, the Bluefins swim club, Brandon School Division, seniors and people from surrounding communities.
The pool was closed from June 29 to July 5 to allow for repairs to the pool lining, which was installed back in 1996 for the ’97 Canada Summer Games.
"Our liner unfortunately is kind of at the end of its life," Elliott said. "They do have a very short life … if you’re comparing it to the life of a facility."
The vinyl liner had been ripping apart, and water was seeping through.
"To me it’s just very unsightly and if the rips get large enough they can be a safety concern," he said.
When asked if a brand new liner will be part of the upgrades, Elliott couldn’t say.
"I can’t make that call yet," he said. "We have a lot of things we’d like to do, but ultimately that’s city council’s decision. It’s my job at the meeting that we have to make them aware and answer any questions so they’re all in the know and we can all make a decision on how to move forward."
Despite the major upgrades needed, Elliott says the facility has "got lots of life left."
"It’s not in bad shape," he said. "We have done replacements to some large pieces over the years, but at 35 years old the building is brick and steel and poured concrete … structural engineers have all said it’s a sound facility. There isn’t any real concerning deterioration, so it’s just a matter of upkeep."
Elliott went on to say that it’s "not unrealistic to get 100 years out of a facility like this as long as you don’t have any structural problems."
The hope is to appear before council within the next few months.
Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said it’s important to maintain the facility, as it provides a "very valuable venue" for the community.
"I don’t think you could not continue to make investments in that facility," she said. "We had a very thorough debate in 2010 about … the aquatic facilities in the community, with the Y expanding and the role that the Sportsplex would play, and I don’t think circumstances have changed at all ... It continues to be an ongoing asset in the community."