Windsor council approves $19M Adie Knox reno, with no swimming pool

·3 min read
Windsor City Council has approved a scaled-back budget for renovating Adie Knox Recreation Complex, after a multi-million ask for federal support fell through. However, the new plan also doesn't include reopening the pool which many residents have fought for.  (CBC/Darrin Di Carlo - image credit)
Windsor City Council has approved a scaled-back budget for renovating Adie Knox Recreation Complex, after a multi-million ask for federal support fell through. However, the new plan also doesn't include reopening the pool which many residents have fought for. (CBC/Darrin Di Carlo - image credit)

Despite ongoing criticism from people who want the City of Windsor to reopen the swimming pool at the Adie Knox Herman Recreation Complex, council has voted to go ahead with a $19-million renovation that will convert the space into a gymnasium.

"When I hear about the Friends of Adie Knox, there's no bigger friend of Adie Knox than me, and those who are going to support this," Mayor Drew Dilkens, the leading proponent of the project, said during a council meeting Monday night.

The plan for the complex built in 1970 has been drastically scaled back — originally earmarked at $42-million — after a federal grant for more than $13 million in funding fell through.

While the pool's closure is part of that plan, the city had set up a deal with the University of Windsor to use its new facility, the Lancer Centre pool, which is about a kilometre away from the recreation centre located at Wilson Park. However, many community members were against that decision.

Some councillors voted against going forward, including Rino Bortolin. He says the city has not listened to what the public wanted.

"We are conveniently omitting it every time we're talking about how proud we are of this investment," Bortolin said at council.

"I mean, we're going to start using 'world class.' We're going to start talking about how this is an amazing investment for the community. The community wanted a pool here. They didn't want a pool at the university, and if we got a pool at the university, we could have used that to subscribe, to over services, to add services to the west end. God forbid we actually add something to that neighbourhood."

Darrin Di Carlo/CBC
Darrin Di Carlo/CBC

Bortolin says the new amenities to be added to the complex are overdue replacements for what was lost when the College Avenue Community Centre was shut down 12 years ago.

Coun. Fabio Costante, who represents the west end, acknowledged some users of the pool at Adie Knox are upset it's being scrapped, but encourages them to use the new facility at the University of Windsor.

"I'm asking the community to give this a try. Those who are hesitant about the Lancer Centre pool, give it a try, and I'm confident that many are going to enjoy this new pool," he said.

"Whenever there is these types of decisions, they're never gonna be perfect, and they're never gonna satisfy everybody's needs, but does this move us forward as a community, as a whole? I believe it does."

During Monday's meeting, council approved the scaled-down version of the project.

"This is, in my opinion, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Coun. Kieran McKenzie, who voted in favour of the plan at yesterday's meeting.

Others were disappointed environmental features are being left out of the new plan after federal funding was denied.

Coun. Fred Francis voted no to the plan, and for him, it was all about timing.

"Talking about deliberating and pushing things into 2023, when many of us might not even be around the table for 2023, and it is going to be a new council. You know, three months before the next election, it should be a decision of the next council," he said.

Construction is expected to begin next year.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting