Moncton's deeper-than-initially-planned east end pool to open Saturday

Six years after Moncton's old east end pool closed, its replacement is set to open to swimmers this weekend. 

The pool off Fergus Street near Wheeler Boulevard will open at 11 a.m. Saturday. It's several weeks behind schedule, but staff say it is within its $2.3 million budget. 

Coun. Shawn Crossman, who represents the area, pushed for the pool's construction for years after a pool at the same location closed in 2013 because of structural problems. 

Plans to build the pool were delayed several times as staff and several members of council raised concerns about the site being within a flood-prone area and with poor soil conditions. 

"There was a lot opposition, there was a lot of controversy at city hall, among city councillors, among city staff, among even residents of Moncton on this pool," Crossman said during a media tour of the site Wednesday.

Controversy erupted last summer as construction began when it was discovered the plans only called for its deepest point to be one metre. City councillors voted to spend an additional $62,000 to add another half-metre. 

Crossman jumped into the pool Wednesday. He stood in its deep end with water lapping around his neck. 

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"This is great," he said.

Diving won't be allowed, but Crossman said the pool will be good for children and adults looking to swim.

"We feel confident that this pool will provide all the opportunities for all of our citizens in Moncton," Jocelyn Cohoon, the city's director of recreation and leisure, said when asked about what happened last year. 

The pool has four 25-metre swim lanes. The site has a capacity for up to 200 people, with about half that number expected to be in the pool at one time. 

"We built this pool with pre-schoolers to seniors in mind, so it suits all abilities and hopefully all interests," Cohoon said. 

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One side of the pool has a barrier-free entry that slopes down from the pool deck down to one metre deep. The pool's deepest point is 1.5 metres. 

The pool deck was built half a metre higher than the original pool deck to reduce the risk of flood damage. The building with washrooms and mechanical systems designed to withstand flooding. 

Components like heat pumps can be removed should floodwaters rise. Geo-piles were driven into the ground to ensure the pool remains stable. Solar panels are meant to make the facility consume "net-zero" energy, Cohoon said. 

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Crossman hopes the new pool will help rejuvenate the neighbourhood, which includes a lot of low-income families and public housing.

"This neighbourhood has been, let's say, on the less fortunate side of the city over the last decade or so," he said. "I'm really interested in … giving a rebirth to the east end of Moncton."

The pool will be open 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. daily. Admission will be $2, dropping to $1 after 4 p.m., and children aged three or younger enter for free.

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The pool with heated water is expected to remain open until the end of August. Cohoon said the city will evaluate attendance, the weather and availability of staff to determine whether to keep it open any longer.

Meanwhile, staff confirmed the new Centennial Beach pool likely won't be complete until mid-August at the earliest. The project was originally scheduled to be done by the end of May, but staff say poor weather and soil conditions have led to delays. 

"We will open it the minute it is ready," Cohoon said.