CALGARY (660 NEWS) – City of Calgary administration is saying there just isn’t enough money to keep the Inglewood and Beltline pools open.
The facilities are due to close on New Year’s Eve due to budget constraints, which has sparked outcry and rallies in the downtown communities. The city had said it could cost over $1 million to keep them open.
But even so, it would still cost about $400,000 to maintain the buildings, even if the pool is not open.
“Which sounds crazy expensive to me,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “But that means that the net benefit of closing them financially if nothing else happens in those buildings at all is $800,000 a year.”
“Is it worth this amount of money to provide rec facilities for people in the inner city?”
The future of the buildings themselves is also in question and Ward 5 Councillor Druh Farrell says something should be imagined, especially with the historic Beltline location.
“We’re looking at creative uses for this building that would help accommodate the same kind of service,” Farrell told the Priorities and Finance Committee Tuesday.
“There are some really cool examples in other cities that actually have a social enterprise in communities of high-need. And we have to realize this community is high-need.”
Ward 8 Councillor Evan Woolley questioned why the city is funding new communities, partly through added taxes, instead of supporting communities that already exist.
“I can tell you that there’s a seething frustration in inner-city communities when they are starting to wonder why it is that a whole bunch of new infrastructure is built in new communities and [we are] actively developing communities and their services are getting cut,” challenged Woolley.
However, this notion was pushed back on by Ward 3’s Jyoti Gondek.
“There is a list of established area projects that benefit from a portion of the levies that we collect for new community growth. So it is absolutely false to say that we added a tax on all residents to fund infrastructure for communities that don’t exist.”
City staff adds that the number of people that use the facilities is much lower than the average at other rec centres.
The debate will be brought up again during budget discussions this month.