Last public pool in Smiths Falls closes

Residents in Smiths Falls are going to have one less option to beat the heat this summer. Operators managing the town’s only public pool have announced it is closing due to a lack of funding.

The pool, which is located at the Gallipeau Centre, is run by a not-for-profit group. It costs roughly $200-thousand a year to keep the doors open, according to Cathy Gilligan, the chair of the Smiths Falls Aquatic Resource Centre board.

Gilligan said a portion of that cost is normally covered by Smiths Falls, Montague, Merrickville-Wolford and Rideau Lakes townships, who reduced their contributions this year.

 “That told us we weren’t going to maintain our sustainability and we decided that we would close before the summer lull comes in,” Gilligan said.

It is upsetting news for many who use the facility, including Carol Cote, who not only sits on the board, but takes part in the aqua fitness classes for her arthritis.  

“The warmth of the water, the feel of the movement of the water, and the activity when you’re moving is all excellent for joints, and bones and everything.”

The loss is also being felt by those learning to swim, or training at the facility.

At 30-years-old Mike Matthews decided to take on an ironman and was practicing at this pool.

“It was a lot safer than swimming in the Rideau… and more confidence knowing there is a lifeguard,” Matthews said.

“But also too you’re sitting here and there are professional swimmers, guys that swam for the last 30, 40 years, and you watch them and learn stuff – it’s a great environment.”

The Mayor of Smiths Falls is hopeful someone will re-open the pool – even if that means turning it into a private club.

“It’s an unfortunate day because we know there are people in our community and the broader community that benefited from this pool,” Mayor Shawn Pankow said.

The facility will be closed as of 8:30p.m. Friday.