Controversial new pool for Moncton's Centennial Park to open next summer

The design of a new outdoor pool for Moncton's Centennial Park is underway and construction is expected to begin in September, according to Jocelyn Cohoon, the director of leisure services.

"We're very excited to see this project get off the ground," Cohoon told Information Morning Moncton.

The $3.5 million project came as a surprise to many residents, particularly those in the east end of the city who have been waiting for the City of Moncton to fulfil a promise made in 2014 to replace or repair their outdoor pool next to the Moncton East Youth Centre.

That pool, which is located in a low-income area of Moncton, has been closed since 2013.

"To hear that Centennial [Park] construction is starting in the spring and they found $3.5 million in their budget — it makes you feel like you're not much of a priority," said Pikey French, the director of the youth centre.

"It goes against everything we're trying to teach," French said. "We're trying to teach them, 'You're valuable,' and then to hear your city council … that Centennial is the priority when these youth have been waiting for four years."

A spokesperson for the City of Moncton said earlier this week that the two outdoor pools are separate from one another and "no public decision" has been made by council on repairing or replacing the east end pool.

In an email statement, Moncton Centre MLA Chris Collins said the response from the city indicates to him that Moncton council has already made a decision on the east end pool but behind closed doors.

"Let's take the next step and bring this to a public council meeting asap, so the kids have a pool this summer," Collins wrote.

Centennial Park pool moving quickly

Cohoon is hoping the new pool at Centennial Park will be open in time for the summer of 2018.

"It's going to be a fairly large footprint," she said.

"We want to make it as large as possible within our budget … that beach over the years has seen 25,000 visits per summer, so it's a very popular facility that's open and accessible to all Monctonians."

Centennial beach, which includes sand and a pool, opened in Centennial Park in 1984 and Cohoon says it needs to be replaced for two reasons.

"It's located in a bit of a flood plain now so we've seen continuous flooding of that site over the last five to eight years which has caused some damage to the facility," Cohoon said.

"But the bigger picture is that essentially that facility is at the end of its serviceable life."

The new pool will be built in the upper area of Centennial Park, near the Rotary Lodge in a picnic area across from the dog park.

"It will be a combination of a beach-type facility, a pool and a real family-centred, inclusive facility."

"It's a great facility for people to use without having to drive to a beach … this facility will include washrooms, change rooms, showers."

Cohoon says maintenance budgets have increased to ensure Centennial beach remains open until the new pool is built.