Rendering of proposed new poolSupplied image

MOUNT FOREST – Community feelings about the outdoor pool proposed for Princess Street may be negatively interfering with ongoing volunteer recruitment and fundraising efforts for the project. 

According to the Mount Forest Aquatics Ad-Hoc Advisory Committee meeting minutes included in a Wellington North council agenda, it’s been difficult for the committee to gain volunteers for their corporate donor program “due to negativity associated with the project” and the current MRI fundraising initiative for the Palmerston and District Hospital. 

A welcome was planned for volunteers in the report but no corporate donor program volunteers were present at the meeting said the minutes. 

While there’s no formal group against the pool campaign, hundreds of residents have been vocal online about their negative feelings for the pool since it was proposed. 

“I thought I wanted a new pool for our town, now, I do not! I’d rather put $1,000,000 into our old pool, and my kids will still get to use a pool before they are too old to use it, by the time it’s finally open,” said one poster on Facebook. “I’d rather not help with the fundraising…(and) especially, not a fan of my taxes going up to pay for it.” 

“An outdoor pool is such a waste of money when we can’t even use it for most of the year,” commented another person. “An indoor pool would make much more sense and be able to be used year-round.” 

“I am totally against this…(it’s a) waste of taxpayer monies, unnecessary (and) frivolous. (Just) repair the existing pool and stop expecting taxpayers to pay for it!!” said one person. “(Like) cost of living increases are not bad enough for everyone, now we have to pay for a pool…seriously.” 

To help improve progress, committee members agreed it would be beneficial to provide presentations to community groups in the coming weeks.

Efforts to spread a positive message about the project, including certain age demographics and attendance at community events throughout the spring and summer months are also encouraged in the committee minutes. 

In an emailed statement, Mount Forest Aquatics Ad Hoc committee chair and Coun. Sherry Burke said fundraising materials were approved at the meeting to move the group’s efforts forward and help volunteers canvass for corporate donations, continue to “project positive messaging” around the new outdoor pool, “ever mindful of the timeline” and possibly recruit some new volunteers along the way. 

“The Aquatics Corporate Donor Program is not unlike many committees and organizations that are struggling to find volunteers to support their initiatives…the committee is excited to get these fundraising activities underway and would welcome any interested community efforts to help make the new Mount Forest Outdoor Pool a reality,” said Burke, in her statement. 

Burke also suggested creating a slogan for the committee to help the project during the meeting. 

The committee said it would consider contacting the funeral home to become a possible beneficiary.

In April, the group had approximately $15,400 of its $2.5 million goal. 

Estimated to cost $5.4 million, the remaining funds will be covered by taxpayer contributions and are anticipated to be $60 per year.

To be determined by the success of its 18-month fundraising campaign, the pool’s tender should be issued in the summer or fall of 2025 with construction anticipated to commence and be completed within 2026. Staff previously said 2027 opening date is likely. 

Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.

By Isabel Buckmaster, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 10, 2024 at 12:24

This item reprinted with permission from   GuelphToday.com   Guelph, Ontario
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