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Laurier to Close Pool Due to Repair Costs

WATERLOO — Wilfrid Laurier University plans to close its aging competitive-sized swimming pool on August 31, 2008.

The 50-metre pool, which has served Laurier and many community groups well over the past 35 years, requires numerous costly repairs.

“This has been a very difficult decision to make,” said Laurier President Dr. Max Blouw. “The pool has played an important role in the community and we would very much like to be able to keep it open. However, given the competing demands on the university’s limited finances, choices have to be made, and we’re simply not able to justify the expense needed to fully rehabilitate the facility.”

The university has commissioned several studies to determine the extent of the necessary repairs. These reports outline a number of options, ranging in cost from about $1.5 million to $20 million.

The Laurier facility is the only 50-metre pool in Waterloo Region and is used by many community groups, including the Region of Waterloo Swim Club (ROW), the KW Synchronized Swim Club, the Waterloo Regional Synchronized Swim Club, KW Water Polo Club, high schools, elementary schools, and Special Olympics athletes. The facility has also served as a host venue for a number of provincial aquatic meets.

The university has kept these groups informed of the pool’s infrastructure problems and the financial challenges involved in funding the repairs. The university has also met with municipal and community leaders to discuss interim solutions that might keep the pool open until a new facility can be built in the region. One idea discussed would be to seek community partners to fund the $1.5 million needed to extend the life of the pool for another two to five years. In exchange, the university would continue to pay the annual $800,000 cost of operating the pool until another facility is built.

To date, these discussions have not yielded any firm commitments.

“We are certainly open to suggestions that might help us bridge the gap for the community groups that have used our pool for so many years,” said Blouw. “But the university cannot afford to continue to pay the annual operating costs and fund an interim solution on its own.”

Meanwhile, the university is making the necessary preparations to shut down the pool August 31. It is also planning alternative training arrangements for its varsity swim team for the coming year.

Contact: PETER BAXTER, Director,
Athletics & Recreation
Wilfrid Laurier University
519-884-0710, ext. 2216
pbaxter@wlu.ca
or Kevin Crowley, Associate Director,
News & Editorial Services
Wilfrid Laurier University
519-884-0710 ext. 3070
kcrowley@wlu.ca

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