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Town administrator addresses public after Outlook pool closure decision

Statements may help to level out the facts surrounding town decision.

OUTLOOK - The story involving the fate of the Van Raay and Community Swimming Pool in Outlook has produced scores of emotion from both town representatives and citizens of the community.

On Friday, April 12, the news broke that the popular facility, which opened in 2019, will not operate this coming season due to an incident in the cold weather of January that led to burst pipes and rapid floods of water causing damage ('Burst pipe leads to seasonal closure of Outlook swimming pool'). In the report, both the town's CAO Kevin Trew and Mayor Maureen Weiterman provided key facts and figures that detailed what had happened, as well as what led to the decision to sit out the coming season and have the pool return in 2025.

One week later, on April 19, members of the public were given a platform to have their say, providing a glimpse at some of the emotion being felt by people in the community ('Public speaks out on Outlook swimming pool closure'). A mixed bag of opinions, from level-headed viewpoints to more sharp criticisms, it showed that there are a bevy of reactions among those in the community and beyond.

Now, the Town of Outlook has provided the following statement, written by CAO Kevin Trew, that may help shed further light on a number of things surrounding the pool closure that are being asked by people in the community.

The Town statement reads as follows:

"It has been a couple weeks since we announced that the Van Raay and Community Swimming Pool will be closed for the 2024 season. Many stakeholders have shared their concerns and questions with our team either by phone, by email or in person in the office or at the open house held last week.

Questions, even the tough questions, are always welcome and we do our best to get informed answers in the public's hands. Should you have questions or concerns, please reach out to us direct.

Here are the answers to some of the questions we have heard these past couple of weeks, and we believe they are worth sharing with you:

- The incident was reported on January 20 to our team by a community member on her routine walk

- A water pipe burst in the equipment building, a heated building

- The heater in the equipment building had stopped working at some point prior to January 20 as the stack was frozen, for the past couple of winters we have had the heat in the equipment room set to keep everything above freezing, the heater stack being frozen was missed by infrequent staff checks

- All pool side related winterization procedures and protocols were followed

- Once the heater stopped working, pipe that was pressurized with municipal water froze, expanded and then burst

- The municipal shutoff valve (curb stop) had not been shut off which is contrary to the Town's winterization procedures

- Once the burst pipe was discovered, the Town team was able to shut off the valve and stop the water but not before a large amount of water entered the pool, the pit in the equipment building and the crawl space around the pool, the team was able to clean up a lot of water and removed all water from the pit and crawl space 

- Since the incident, we have engaged insurance assessors as well as the appropriate contractors that have experience in these matters to advise us of the way forward through repairs and construction needed to reopen the pool

- Some of the replacement parts take time to access and our team was quick to order what definitely needed replacement immediately, as advised by our insurer and the contractor

- The most recent assessment by the experienced contractor revealed that a new pool liner is needed and that there is evidence of shifting under the pool deck, the liner is custom made and has a manufacture and delivery time of between 12 and 16 weeks at a cost of $350,000, the costs of which will be covered by insurance

- An undetermined amount of excavation work is expected to be needed as well, we still wait for everything to thaw to further evaluate and then we will ensure that we get this completed in a timely and proper manner

- The deductible for this insurance is $5,000 - as a part of SUMASSURE, an insurance reciprocal, our future annual premiums are based on claims of all municipalities across Saskatchewan and, while the premiums are expected to rise, we don't expect the increase to be significant

- The damages and costs to repair are still not finalized, however they are currently estimated to be between $400,000 and $1,200,000, all costs will be covered by insurance

- Those members of our team who missed proper application of approved procedures have been disciplined accordingly, our operations team takes full responsibility for the lack of oversight in this case and we have been tasked with not only addressing the repairs and maintenance but also ensuring that this sort of thing does not happen again

- Even though we have many existing checklists and protocols for our Town facilities and properties, we have prioritized and assigned a member of the executive team to make sure all winterizing checklists for all Town facilities are thorough, written, stored in a central working location and checked by both the person doing the tasks at hand and the supervisor checking their work going forward

- We expect to open the Van Raay and Community Swimming Pool for the 2025 season.  To that end, with the spring weather, we have been able to access the areas of concern to get a better idea of the extent of the damages and our insurer is bringing an engineer along with the contractor for a final assessment

- The costs of remediation of the pool to reopen are covered by our insurance

We continue to answer all questions asked to us direct by telephone, by email or in person."

Trew has also included contact information for anyone wishing to reach out with questions or comments.

(306) 867-8663 or cell (306) 768-7755
400 Saskatchewan Avenue