Wascana pool design receives mixed reviews

The concept design for the redevelopment of Regina’s Wascana outdoor pool site lays out two separate swimming areas — one for lane swimming and one for leisure. Community reaction to the recently released plan is also divided.

While the recreational users who spoke to Global News have expressed enthusiasm, those who swim competitively or for exercise have expressed concerns that the lane pool isn’t large enough.

The proposed design, which was received and filed by council’s executive committee last week, includes a 25-by-25-metre lane pool with 10 lanes with one- and three-metre diving boards and a climbing wall. It also includes a leisure pool that features a lazy river, water slides, a toddler zone and zero-depth entry. The concept drawing outlines a spray pad, concession and accessible change rooms as well.

“I think it’s going to be great,” said Jennifer Ede, who was at the Sandra Schmirler Leisure Centre with her grandchildren Monday. “There’s a little bit for everyone to do in a family.”

The sentiment was echoed by other families.

“I think that will be really fun because you can do both swimming in lanes and doing it publicly with all your friends,” said 11-year-old Quynn Sandercock. “That will probably be my No. 1 pool to go to, especially with the lazy river.”

Ken Mullock thinks the proposed pools will be well used and appreciated.

“It’s nice to have it separated to separate the two different demographics that might enjoy those two different pools,” he said.

A public consultation was held in 2019 asking residents what they hoped to find in a redevelopment. Over 5,300 people gave feedback on a number of design options and features. The city held an open house on the subject, attended by nearly 100 people. More than 70 per cent were in favour of a design with two pools.

According to the city’s findings, residents’ most common request was for the consideration of a 50-metre long lane pool at the site.

“If you only have it for 25 metres, there’s not enough space for everybody to use it,” said University of Regina Cougars assistant swim coach Daniel Gomez. ” Making it longer, you can have lessons on this side, swimming on this side or you can have some water polo, some diving, some synchrnoized swimming…”

Options for a facility built either exclusively with a 50-metre lane pool, or with a leisure pool and a 50-metre lane pool, are also included in the report. They’re are considered less ideal, though, due to extra cost, construction footprint, tree removal, and development timeline.

Residents also expressed concern about how redevelopment might impact Wascana Park. The proposed design would impact 69 trees and cover 6,400 square metres.

The report also notes the potential for a feasibility study to look at addressing the desire for a 50-metre pool with a new indoor aquatics facility. Administration says the study would be covered by the city’s recently passed 0.5 per cent dedicated mill rate for recreation and could begin in 2021.

Gomez is hopeful the city will add another Olympic-size indoor pool to the mix.

“We need to build a pool that can be usable all year round,” he said. “If we build a 50-metre pool that’s indoors, all the user groups can use it.”

The proposed design concept in the report falls within the approved 2020 general capital budget for the project of 15 million dollars. The concept is subject to change as the project moves into a detailed design phase with consultation from the Provincial Capital Commission’s Architectural Advisory Committee.

The original Wascana Pool was built in the 1950s and demolished last year. The redevelopment plans are in response to the City of Regina’s Recreation Master Plan released last year.

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