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A new Aquatic Sports Centre could be built at Carleton University

The swimming pool at Carleton University. The City of Ottawa and Carleton University could team up to build a new aquatic facility at the university on Bronson Avenue. (Carleton University/website) The swimming pool at Carleton University. The City of Ottawa and Carleton University could team up to build a new aquatic facility at the university on Bronson Avenue. (Carleton University/website)
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The City of Ottawa is looking to jump into the pool with Carleton University to build a new aquatic centre with an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

A report for the finance and corporate services committee recommends Ottawa enter into commercially confidential non-binding negotiations with the university for a partnership to fund, develop, manage and operate a new Aquatic Sports Centre.

Under the proposal, a new centre would be built on the campus of Carleton University on Bronson Avenue with a 50-metre 10-lane pool, with diving facilities and spectator stands, and a 25-metre eight-lane pool to increase access to the general public.

In November 2021, the Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services department issued a Request for Expression of Interest seeking potential partners to develop a new Aquatic Centre in Ottawa. While seven proponents responded to the request, staff say Carleton is the only bidder to meet the requirements.

"Carleton confirmed a significant financial contribution (not including the cost of the land) for the construction of a new facility and demonstrated readiness to break ground within 24 months of finalizing an agreement with a partner," staff say in the report for the July 2 committee meeting.

"Additionally, Carleton had already begun their own design process for the lifecycle replacement of their existing 50m pool facility."

Carleton University says it will provide a financial contribution toward the construction of the project, and staff say building the aquatic centre on Carleton's campus would result in "no add-on real estate value to the cost of the project."

There is no word on the cost of the new aquatic centre.  The report says if negotiations with Carleton University are successful to reach an agreement, a report will be presented to committee and council. The city will spend $150,000 for the preliminary design and cost estimation work on the project.

Staff say a new aquatic centre will provide a "modern standard not currently available to City of Ottawa residents" and increase the public's access to various aquatic recreation experiences.

The report adds a 50-metre competitive pool and a 25-metre warm-up/community pool would offer the city a facility to host aquatic events and competitions.

Negotiations between Carleton and the city will look at several elements, including facility ownership, leases and service agreements, facility operations and management from a "functional programming perspective" including scheduling and supervision of aquatic components, day-to-day maintenance and long-term asset management, facility governance model and a financing model for construction and ongoing operations.

There have been calls for Ottawa to build a new aquatic facility for years. The 2024 City of Ottawa budget included $3.9 million for the development of a new major aquatic facility, and $66.4 million in capital funding for a new Riverside South Recreation Complex, which would include a 25-metre pool.

While the Nepean Sportsplex has a 50-metre aquatic pool, staff say it is "no longer an attractive or qualifying option for aquatic sport training and competitions."

"Ottawa is often not considered, nor deemed a competitive option, to host competitive swimming, diving, water polo or synchronized swimming events, and is missing out on the associated local opportunities and economic benefit," the report says.

"The current inventory of City pools, including the Nepean Sportsplex, cannot address the growth in local demand for access to aquatic facilities or programs."

The 2024 Development Charges report suggested the price of a new aquatic facility would be $54.6 million.

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