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Saugeen Shores YMCAHub Staff

Saugeen Shores town staff will be dipping their toes into discussions with the YMCA of Owen Sound Grey Bruce after receiving Council’s endorsement during the January 29 Committee of Whole to develop a fulsome Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to guide a potential partnership of the aquatic kind.

The MOU will tread the waters of what could come out of a partnership between YMCA and Saugeen Shores. Councillors asked Town staff to seek potential partners following a November 13 Special Committee of Whole which presented four different pool options ranging from $21.4 to $14.4 million.

See: Town staff to seek potential partnerships for a new pool in Saugeen Shores

In a staff report Director of Community Services Jayne Jagelewski said the process will provide a healthy discussion, addressing user needs and questions around “financial viability and reducing the dependence of tax support from residents and accessibility for all regardless of financial circumstance.”

Deputy Mayor Luke Charbonneau supported the talks between a YMCA and the Town of Saugeen Shores but did share a concern between local fitness centres and the impact a YMCA could have on them and requested it be addressed in the discussions.

“We have a number of successful fitness centres in town, ones that contribute a great deal to this municipality and I want to put on the table right now that I’m uncomfortable at this moment with the concept of us subsidizing to the extent, to the possibility of the tens of millions of dollars... and then go in direct competition with these businesses in our community that have been great supporters of the community,” said the Deputy Mayor.

His comments were echoed by Councillor Neil Menage.

Menage also hoped that following their preliminary talks with YMCA, Town staff could address the retention of current pool staff and bring forth information of what the potential could be for the current Centennial Pool located at Saugeen District Secondary School when it’s no longer in use.

Councillor Don Matheson maintained his stance that the Plex site is not his preferred place for a potential pool and suggested that Cameron Park could be an option now that the Town will be purchasing land on Concession 6 for the ball diamonds.

“Are we set in stone at the Plex,” asked Matheson. “Are we looking at alternative sites here or are we set here?”

Jagelewski responded, “As we enter into potential partnerships some of those partnerships may dictate where the facility ends up, so we’re certainly at this point not pigeonholing into a specific location. Locations will be derived as we go through those conversations.”

Matheson stated that if the Plex is the site for the potential pool, if talks get that far with YMCA, that he would be voting against the location. Matheson then suggested getting the public involved, and get a fundraising committee together.

Town CAO David Smith said YMCA representatives told Town staff not to “jump too quickly”.

“You have to get your expectation right, fundraising is very, very important as is site selection, so it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight, but we will make sure the community is consulted and council as well,” said Smith.