New location confirmed for West Parry Sound Recreation and Cultural Centre  

Rendering of the exterior of the WPS Recreation and Cultural Centre

The West Parry Sound Recreation and Cultural Centre will be built at 44 Joseph Street in Parry Sound, with site preparation scheduled to begin before the year ends.

The West Parry Sound Recreation and Cultural Centre Board confirmed the decision at its November 8 meeting. The property was purchased after extensive due diligence through external consultants, who investigated the original site of 36 Smith Crescent and worked with project leads to determine which location was most cost-effective.

“Conducting this due diligence and finalizing the purchase prevented us from communicating with the public for some time, but we are thrilled to share this positive news with our community,” says Donald Sanderson, Chair of the West Parry Sound Recreation and Cultural Centre Board. “Building this facility at 44 Joseph Street is not only a financially-sound decision but will deliver broad benefits to the community given its proximity to the high school, residential areas and the downtown core.”

Gordon + Gordon Group also presented updated project details at the meeting, noting that all priority features will be included in the Joseph Street build, including a six-lane lap pool, therapy pool, fitness area, multipurpose rooms for social and cultural activities and a 6,500 square-foot gymnasium. They noted that these features, together with the cost to purchase the land, will not exceed the project’s $36.3 million budget.

The team also responded to community feedback recently submitted on the West Parry Sound Recreation and Cultural Centre website in response to the schematic design. The sauna has been removed from the latest version of the design and more storage has been added. They also pointed out that the gym can accommodate to various sports, including pickleball and that they would continue to explore options to allow for more spectators.

The Board also passed a resolution reflecting the Town of Parry Sound’s recent decision to waive standard development and service charges to minimize the overall cost of the project. Board representatives noted that the funding agency ICIP (Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program) must approve of the 44 Joseph Street location, but that preliminary consultations with the organization have been favourable.

26 Comments

  1. victoria eves

    I am wondering if all of the planners have ever visited a sports facility without spectator availability.????
    The TV does not cut it. It seems to be very short sighted . I have never been to one without both spectator areas. and a coffee shop facility as well.

  2. Debbie Blower

    We have had to drive our children and grandchildren out of town for swimming lessons and never would have left the pool area. We always stayed and watched.
    The children need our support.

  3. Sue Woodhouse

    A spectator viewing area is a must. The suggestion of a tv monitor in a narrow corridor, presumably without seating is hard to fathom. This facility will be all about families, gatherings and social interactions as well as sporting activities. Replacing those with a screen just isn’t good enough for this otherwise stunning facility.

  4. Kirby Hall

    Please incorporate spectator viewing for both the gym and the pool. You are only doing this once and its been decades in the making, make it right. The weight room area seems rather large and perhaps some of that area could be consolidated.

  5. Ian Gray

    This is a new build and a big investment. We have the opportunity to create something great for our community. Let’s do it right the first time. This community will use, enjoy and prefer a nicely thought out facility for potentially generations. Families/parents enjoy watching their children participate, learn and develop. Viewing areas are a must, not cctv.

  6. Susan Adamson

    I thought this facility was all about families, social interactions, fitness and health. Viewing rooms are essential! Viewing from a hallway or on a close circuit tv is ridiculous. I suspect that many, particularly dome elderly, could not stand long enough to view activities, so you are effectively excluding an audience. I wonder if a large group of viewers in an exit hallway would be considered a fire safety risk. Please reconsider.

  7. Sharon Kalich

    Seeing your child learn to swim and continue to excel is almost like a rite of passage. Parents need to see their child to be involved in their progress. Children are always looking in the crowd to see if their parents are watching. It’s a sense of comfort and pleasure knowing their parents are there to support them. As others have said the “gathering of the clans” to support and enjoy together is also needed for a community to “be the village”. Could they not bump out the street wall a little (I know it’s extra $$) if that is where pool side is.

  8. Wendy Grater

    This facility has been wanted and needed by Parry Sound area families and citizens for decades. To omit a viewing area for the pool and gymnasium is shortsighted and decreases significantly the value to families. Having viewers crammed into a hallway is not likely up to code, not healthy and not acceptable. Please reconsider this.

  9. David Bialkowski

    A pool /rec centre is a much bigger conduit for sport and health than hockey will ever be. It easily includes gender, race, culture, and all ages as well as many physically challenged people. A viewing area spawns inspiration and participation. Without a viewing area, your pool could well be empty.

  10. John Jackson

    We have one chance to build this right, viewed seating is a must. If cuts are to made, there are other areas, possibly to the planners.

  11. Ian Gray

    This is a big investment so let get it right the first time. Who doesn’t like to watch their child, family member or friend participate, learn and develop.? CCTV is not going to make the grade. Whether it’s competition in the pool or in the gym there needs to be a viewing area. We don’t build hockey rinks without some bleachers. Why should this new facility be any different.

  12. Robin Plumb

    There is no doubt that the WPS area could benefit from some form of aquatics centre. The current plan though is so exorbitantly expensive, irresponsible, and unreasonable that it will almost certainly fail. Rather than design a facility that meets the needs of the majority in a way that is affordable, they have come up with a massive 43,000 sq ft, six lane pool at a capital cost that will be in excess of $36MM (more likely $45-50MM) and will cost the entire area at least $5MM a year, requiring a permanent tax increase of 8-10 percent on top of the usual 4-7% increases. The survey of area residents in 2020 showed that about 85% of respondents wanted a pool for recreational/therapeutic purposes; only 5% wanted a competition pool (the other 5% wanted to use it for things like kayak lessons in the winter).

    I have reviewed over two dozen feasibility studies for such facilities proposed over the past 18 years across the country, and none of them planned never to cover their operating costs , and none had anywhere near this level of taxpayer support. The Committee has never disclosed the full amount of initial and ongoing funding to be borne by the ratepayers, nor has it disclosed that the standard YMCA rates will apply–presently over $2K per year for a family membership. At that level of financial burden, surely the municipalities should be discussing priorities–$5MM a year for an amenity vs struggling to find funding for their own critical infrastructure investments.

    There are other configurations and organizational options that should have been considered and pursued but were not. For a mostly rural area with a small population, it would make more sense to create a facility that includes features and services supported and/or provided by a number of government agencies and ministries (e.g., Education, Health and Long-Term Care, Community and Social Services, etc). Why? Because that would spread not only the capital but also the operating costs as well as create a nexus of services that are complimentary with synergies to improve usage and benefits (i.e., increasing memberships and presenting more opportunities for government subsidization of memberships). Such a facility could be of much more benefit to many more people.

    In 2018, the Near North Board sent letters to each area council head asking them to consider including a pool in the new high school. Great idea. No need to duplicate a gymnasium, and imagine the benefits to the students. Earlier in the project in 2019, apparently there was an opportunity to work with a low-income housing group to create some form of combined housing and recreation centre. The offer came with significant subsidies. These are exactly the kinds of opportunities that should have been rigorously pursued.

    The project now is in serious trouble because the Board is certain that the contractual funding limits will be exceeded (i.e., $32MM for construction, $350K per year for operating deficits). McKellar has passed a resolution last Tuesday stating that it will not provide any more funding. Also last week, Whitestone council rejected a request for funding under a side agreement. According to correspondence related to the ICIP grant application, the grant authorities wanted to see that all seven municipalities were committed, that the project would not place undue financial hardship on the municipalities, and that there was no widespread public opposition. None of those conditions were satisfied and therefore the grant is at serious risk of being rescinded. Also, any one of the municipal partners, under the Board agreement, could object to the necessary funding limit increases and cause the whole agreement to fall apart (which would then cause the project to fall apart and the grant to be pulled).

    We need the Board to face reality, cancel the current project, and ask that the grant be put on hold until a better plan can be developed. If they do not take that action soon, and the grant gets pulled, we will have no chance of getting another such grant, and any hope of a pool that meets the needs of the majority will be gone for another 20 years or so.

    If this concerns you, you may want to convey those to your local mayor and council.

    1. Gerald A Heitman

      Totally agree with you Robin. I will not repeat anything you have stated, I grew up in Parry Sound and have a lot of family still there. Being retired I have done some reading on pool complexes for and in small towns with significant rural populations. I have to agree on what the actual cost will be especially with current inflation and bank rates. Check how building material costs have sky rocketed over the last few years and continue to rise. I think Whitestone and McKellar are both doing the right thing limiting their funding. When I read no viewing areas for events, most complex’s this is one of the first considerations. Yet some commentors think you can just add more room, come on it would only cost a few millions more!! I have read nothing about the lack of public transportation in the town or surrounding area. Are people in outlaying areas like Whitestone and McKellar going to risk travel on secondary highways and in some cases dirt roads in a snow storm. Unless something has changed drastically I don’t see the pool being used to any extent in the summer month’s unless people are that afraid of Georgian Bay and the thousands of amazing inland lakes. I will take the bay over chemically treated water any day!!

      1. Robin Plumb

        I agree. The facility will be empty in the summer. I used to belong to the Y in Wasaga Beach and every summer the pool is almost empty given that the world’s longest freshwater beach is 1/2 mile away.
        The area needs a plans to enhance the standards of living for more people. This pool project will do the opposite, increasing taxes (through rent) on the people who will not be able to afford a membership to the pool ($2K a year for a family). What a slap in the face to them.

        I’d rather us put $1MM a year or so towards free daycare and some form of public transportation. That could help a lot of families and expand the area’s workforce, which is desperately needed by local businesses and is seen as a hurdle to new businesses. Imagine what that could do the overall health and well-being of the area?

  13. Garrett McNabb

    Spectator viewing should have been a critical element to the design from the beginning and how it got lost is baffling. There has been so much progress on this complex and it would be an absolute shame if this gets missed. Please reconsider and make the appropriate changes, I’m confident the planners can get creative on the design & budget.

  14. Dana Labrie

    A mezzanine that runs the length of the pool above the change rooms
    A mezzanine across the end of the pool so the view is down all lanes.
    A corridor that runs the length of the pool just outside of the wall of windows to the outdoors.

    So viewing area separated from swimmers /coaches is best…bleachers for teams (sometimes 100 strong) and coaches on deck would be ideal (not shared with parents, parents should be upstairs in viewing area or separated section). Larger teams have 100 swimmers, ours may just have 50 to start in it’s first few years. But we would expect some meets to have 300-600 swimmers. A proper viewing area is a necessity for these meets..

    A coach in a smaller town like our said:
    We have an 8 lane pool . We have viewing upstairs , as well as bleachers on deck . If you can keep viewing up in a viewing area it would be better then on deck.
    We run meets with 300 a session.
    New warmup rules only alllow for 20 per lane during warmup so keep that in mind. You can have more in a session if you run 3 sessions. We would run 3 sessions . But sell the sport tourism. If they are after getting people to the area, the bigger numbers the better. So if you would run three sessions, with a 6 lane pool. You could bring in 600-700 swimmers. So you would Need seating for over 200.

  15. Shannon Burrows

    As a parent who commuted six days per week for many years out of area for a child in swimming, a viewing area is a must. After travelling to many swim facilities and participating in many meets as a parent volunteer, a mezzanine approach (as already noted) is a solid suggestion for sure – it keeps swimmers/coaches/meet/lesson participants and volunteers separate from spectators and should be incorporated. Having active spectator presence at meets and at lessons/activities can assist with cost recoveries, spectator presence is so highly valued, and I do most certainly agree that the small viewing room at one end of the pool is insufficient. I agree Dana’s comments above. Also noted above – do it right the first time.

  16. Kathy Dyer

    I echo the opinion that an in person viewing area is a must. Several people including Bill Connor a coach and person who has been involved in swimming a long time have voiced that it is imperative to have this included in the plan. The cost now added will be worth it thousand fold later on. It needs to be done right from the start. thanks, Kathy Dyer

  17. Al Doubrough

    Thank you for your comments on the Pool design and layout. Your comments are well taken and as a MSB member I very much appreciate what is being posted. Building right, is imperative as long as not being a cost prohibitive caveat in the decision making that we must always monitor. The concern over the spectating area was commented on once again at the last MSB meeting by myself and others and our concerns were acknowledged by the Building Team. We will await their feedback. Thank you again for your input.

  18. Pat Orr

    Not having some sort of a viewing area is unacceptable…do it right the first time.Parry Sound has waited a long time for this pool facility.

  19. Cathy Lamb

    A viewing area for the pool is a must!!
    You hope that people will come from far and wide to see their children or family members or friends swim
    They want to SEE the event and cheer the swimmers
    This aspect of the event will not happen under the proposed design

    Can someone on the steering committee tell us when the decision was made not to be a competitive facility?
    ( as stated at the last steering committee meeting)
    If not a competitive facility why 8 lanes??

    This current/proposed design needs to get another look

  20. Anne

    This building seems to get bigger and bigger. I’d love to see the plan and also a good eay for people to submot their ideas and comments. Is this the place to make comments?

    It’s grown a lot since a pool was proposed and now it’s called a “Recreation and Cultutal Centre”. In my opinon you can’t build somethig to meet all the various activities and please everyone. I wish that we would bulld a pool (and a therapy pool, if the hopsital doesn’t build their own) and do that really well. Expanding the building to include a gym, a multipurpose room, a track, basketball and volleyball courts seems to be a lot bigger and more expensive than a pool. Their are other facilities in town for events and groups.

    I also hope serious consideration has gone into what the new highschool building (especially since the current plan looks like the buildings will be next door) will include so there is no duplication. I would hope that the community will be able to use the gym/vollyball/basketball courts which surely will be included in the highschool building. Likewise, I hope their will be some coordination about the entrances (to make it easy to get from the highschool to the pool and vs.) and that the parking lots will be conveniently shareable.

    Lastly, I hope their will be a suitable entrance to allow safe drop off and pick up.

  21. Elise Rensonnet

    while I applaud the large windows and access to natural light, I think the windows on the street side should be above eye level.
    privacy will be a concern for several groups of users. Some examples: the aquafit for seniors, the Mennonites users, the future immigrants of different culture coming to the Parry Sound area etc.

  22. David Jeffery

    From what I’m seeing in comments. Who got the contract to design this. To me they have never been to a facility. Almost everyone here is saying of poor design issues. That is also child safety issues if I’m guessing right.

    Next who on earth who start a project this size this late in the season. As a contractor, this is poor management. Concrete costs way more as additives needed, dirt becomes frozen costing more, slower work because you need to warm up, shoveling off snow costs a lot of extra time, plowing and snow removal costs. That will put cost up a lot. Been there on large construction projects. Contractors charge a lot extra. Will be lots of extras.

    This is also a poor location as it’s a main artery into town and now will have to have another set of lights there. Slowing traffic more going into town.

  23. Sally Labath

    Thanks for this forum for community members to provide feedback!
    As a society, we’ve recently experienced being isolated from others during the covid pandemic. For example, families dressing their hockey players in the parking lot and dropping their kids off at the arena door, with restricted entry to watch their little ones develop new skills. For families involved in the arts or sports, the activity encompasses the family and community, not solely the participant in isolation. Participation in activity involves the social environment. I strongly encourage a combined viewing area for the gymnasium and pool to promote a sense of community and spectator support for the participants.

  24. Rod Osborne

    When will taxpayers receive a response from the Steering Committee regarding all the issues brought up and comments put forward?
    The public needs full disclosure on all capital and operating costs.
    When will the plan be finalized and when will cost proposals become available?
    Unless the public is thoroughly informed, the project is doomed to failure.

    Rod Osborne
    Seguin, On

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