OK, I know what you’re thinking.
Why oh why did St. Catharines city council fail to end the West Park pool agony? Instead, it kept the faintest flickers of hope alive by agreeing to have city hall staff offer guidance to a citizens group on how to extract millions of dollars from the province and the feds in order that the pool could be brought up to standards and, thus, be kept open.
I’m not saying getting the cash is a long shot, but Las Vegas has set the odds of it happening below the Leafs winning the Cup this year. And that’s the Grey Cup.
Doesn’t council know it’s better to quickly rip off a Band-Aid than slowly remove it?
Probably. It’s Joe Kushner who gets the blame for going the painful route.
The man knows crafty.
His no-hope motion on the pool Monday won him favour with constituents while placing his council colleagues between a rock and a hard place.
The vast majority of councillors have no desire whatsoever to spend additional city cash to repair and keep operating West Park. Not only would it involve a lot of dough, the retention of West Park would worsen revenue numbers at the new Kiwanis aquatic centre at Pearson Park.
Ergo, Kushner knew he couldn’t introduce a motion that sought a city financial commitment to his ward pool. It would have gone down to a staggering defeat. Instead, he ‘only’ asked that staff be directed to work with the grassroots save-the-pool organization, specifically on how to go about getting cash from the feds, province and private sources.
It’s a ludicrous hope – on a priority scale of one to 100, the feds and province would list this at 562 - but what was city council to do?
Defeating the motion would leave councillors open to accusations they were unwilling to give committed, earnest residents at least the opportunity to make this project work. Council can’t afford to send that sort of message out; the city is reliant on groups such as this to make the community tick.
That said, councillors rightly made it clear the group was on its own, noting there was no hope for municipal money.
They reinforced that point a couple of hours later when they rejected in a tie vote a motion to have the city spend up to $15,000 on a condition assessment of the building. Such an assessment is considered key in the grant-application game.
The result of Monday night’s hand-wringing over West Park pool?
Kushner and his less vocal ward colleague Matt Harris managed to keep the issue alive and gained brownie points from their constituents in the process.
City council didn’t completely turn its back on a group of concerned citizens, yet showed the rest of the city it hadn’t completely lost its mind.
The Save the Pool gang gets to fight another day or six.
Welcome to the world of municipal politics.