Thames Pool to not reopen until 2025 at earliest, estimated repair costs quadruple – London |

The future of Thames Pool remains murky as city staff say the popular recreation spot cannot reopen until at least 2025 and the estimated costs for short-term repairs have quadrupled.

In a report coming before a committee next week, staff outline that further damage to the pool and rising construction costs have resulted in an extended timeline for repairing the pool.

Staff say the crux of the issue at Thames Pool is due to a location that puts it at risk of significant flood damage, hydrostatic pressures, and the freeze-thaw cycle. The damage includes movement in the pool floor, failures of the piping systems, and a loss of base support.

Further damage occurred at the pool following the report before the committee in March.

“We understand this has an impact on the community and we certainly appreciate their patience and Thames Pool user patience as we work our way through this process,” said Jon-Paul McGonigle, director of recreation and sport for London.

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The new report comes after council directed staff to provide two short-term options to reopen the pool as soon as possible. The direction stemmed from an original recommendation by city staff in March to decommission the pool due to it being in a flood plain.

Option One

The most minimal option under consideration would see basic repairs to the pool floor and piping, as well as the installation of a weeping tile and a site drain to monitor and mitigate groundwater levels.

A weeping tile under the pool would allow groundwater to be directed away from the pool tank. Relief ports in the new main drains would allow groundwater to be discharged away from causing damage.

The estimate has risen to $1.92 million from an original estimate of $375,000.

Option Two

In the second option, some of the piping would be relocated from underneath the pool floor to the sides of the pool. Staff say the relocation would minimize damage from hydrostatic pressures and freeze-thaw cycles.

Repairs to the pool floor and installation of weeping tile and hydrostatic relief ports would also be included.

Like the first option, the estimated costs have jumped significantly, to $2.23 million from $600,000.

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City staff say there are numerous reasons for the quadrupling of estimated costs, including increased construction costs and the original estimates not including designing and contingency fees.

“This report is much more detailed and really based on the expected work, whereas the others were at a high level of what a general repair would cost,” said Anna Lisa Barbon, London’s deputy city manager of finance supports.

While the repairs would aim to get the pool operational for the first time since 2021, staff stress they are mitigation only and not fixing the crux of the issue. Because they are mitigation only, Barbon acknowledges there is a chance that if completed in the fall, winter damage could harm the pool to the point where the repairs are rendered useless.

“The intent of this is to mitigate to them to the degree possible, but that is certainly a probable circumstance that could occur,” said Barbon, though she added she can’t give a percentage likely hood of that happening.

Barbon also cautioned the public to maintain expectations and understand construction may run long.

“If the conditions end up being significantly unfavourable, that could create delays and there is a risk it could not be open in 2025,” Barbon said.

The report notes the construction needed for this type of repair is a specialized industry, and the limited companies able to perform the tasks have been virtually booked for 2023, and many are already booked for 2024.

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The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority would also have to issue a permit for construction. While the pool being an existing infrastructure means the UTRCA would likely issue the permit, the authority made a point of warning against further construction in the current location.

“The UTRCA recommends that the City thoroughly explore (opportunities) to decommission and/or relocate the pool to a location outside of hazard lands in order to protect the public and prevent costly maintenance and repairs in the future,” said the UTRCA in a letter to the city.

Users of Thames Pool are currently receiving free, unlimited passes to other city pools in London for 2023. McGonigle says the city would reevaluate how users would be compensated going forward next year.

The report outlining the options and financial considerations will go before Tuesday’s meeting of the community and protective services committee.

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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