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Which pools may be saved to stay open in Winnipeg

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Two pools on the city's chopping block could be staying afloat, for now.

The city's four-year preliminary budget proposed closing Windsor Park, Happyland, and Eldon Ross pools because they're aging with costly repairs required.

Following pressure from the impacted communities, the mayor's executive policy committee voted on several changes to the budget.

“I think with a couple of the decisions that are being made today, they're hard decisions, but they're future-focused,” said Mayor Scott Gillingham.

The changes include keeping Windsor Park Pool open for this year and next while upgrades are being done to Bonivital Pool. In the meantime, the city will do consultation on the “aquatic needs” for St. Boniface in the long term.

City finance committee chair Jeff Browaty said that could include a new pool.

“If we look at the success and the popularity of the more regional centres like the one in Transcona and how successful that is, sort of that type of model, we would probably want to emulate that here,” said Browaty.

Amber Gauthier from the Windsor Park Resident’s Association said they are on board with the move as it gives them time to regroup.

"We supported it so that we can have a couple of years to figure out our next move," said Gauthier.

What won't be in the long-term plans is Happyland Pool, which is still set to close for good.

St. Boniface city councillor Matt Allard said the community is devastated about the closure.

"St. Boniface residents are feeling there's been a net loss to the community, I'm hoping that loss will feel like a win, but for now it really hurts," said Allard.

There is potential to save Eldon Ross.

EPC agreed to keep the indoor pool operational through the summer, while a request for proposal process is launched, to sell the pool to a private or not-for-profit operator. There will be a provision attached, that the public will still be allowed to use it. Point Douglas city councillor Vivian Santos said she envisions the city could provide an operating grant.

"Swimming is a necessity, it is a life-saving skill,” said Santos. “I think there's a lot of interest in that, in the private sector."

Council votes on the budget and the changes Wednesday. 

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