A Few Thoughts: Adie Knox

TLDR Version

  • This plan will close a pool and offer no guarantees that new facility will be built.
  • $42 Million price tag is misleading over ~40% of that number is a buffer for construction cost, consultants and contingencies. Could be only a $26 Million investment
  • There is still no community centre west of Huron Church Rd. where some of the rates of highest child poverty exist in the community.

Full Piece

  • What do I think of the Adie Knox plan?
    • Honestly I could go either way. I did swim occasionally at Adie Knox (pre-covid), moving it to the St Dennis/Lancer Centre actually makes the pool closer to me.
    • The investment in Adie Knox itself, should it materialize, would be a generational investment..
    • That being said, I have a number of problems with this process and questions about the broader impact that are outlined below.

Synergies

  • One of the things that is somewhat intangible but needs to be figured out are the synergies between the existing Adie Knox community centre and it’s users that are impacted by the proposed shift.
  • First, day camps and summer camps are run at City Community Centres. Many of these camps include swimming as a part of their service offering and can be subsidized by Pathway to Potential funds for lower income residents.
    • By removing the pool from Adie Knox, I am sure summer camps could stay (maybe?) but will access to swimming still be apart of that camp? Is the city committing to have young kids walk 1.5 km to the Lancer Centre to swim? Will they provide transport or do kids going to camp in this neighbourhood just not get to go swimming and a splash pad will do.
    • The report does state that the University will host Day Camp programming. Does that mean Adie Knox will still run camps or are they also lost apart of 7% of service reduction?
    • Additionally given the socio-economic make up this neighbourhood will those programs at the University be free or eligible for City of Windsor P2P subsidy?
      • P2P subsidy is mentioned but not explicitly endorsed in the report.
      • The City often also offers free swim days during the summer at various pools etc. usually supported by corporate sponsors, with the University offer the same?
    • I don’t know….
  • The second synergy is transit.
  • Currently the Crosstown 2 and the 5 (at the corner of Campbell and Wyandotte) service Adie Knox. The nearest stops to the St Dennis Centre are at old College Ave bus terminal or Campbell and College. Both of which require a approximately 500m walk to the Lancer Centre.
    • In theory the future Number 12 Grid route (see PDF pg. 44) in the transportation master plan does service College Avenue. This route is a brand new East-West route designed to connect U Windsor to East Windsor, it is unclear if existing transit riders would utilize that route to access the pool, I would also note that this route does not go to Adie Knox.
    • On the active transit side, both Wyandotte St. and College Ave. have been designated for “high priority” bike infrastructure as does Campbell connecting them.
      • Who knows when that is coming.
  • The third synergy is with Life After Fifty which is located right across the street from Adie Knox. This organization has a second facility rented in the WFCU Centre. From my understanding municipalities from a certain size are required to fund senior centres/programs in their community, this is why Life After Fifty receives $172,000 from the City in the ABC portion of the budget.
    • It also receives about $90,000 in membership fees in the pre-covid world. One of the advantages of the McEwan site, is that programs like Aqua fit and other aquatic activities that are offered right across the street from their facility. I would assume their members after swimming or partaking in a class, then go across the street to socialize at LAF, play some pickle ball, hangout at the quilting circle, take a class or eat a high quality meal at a reasonable price at the cantina before heading home.
    • What is the impact on LAF memberships of the loss of easy access to a pool near their west-end facility (that they own)? Is the City willing to step up and offer to compensate them with additional funding or a transportation shuttle to the University? I would point out that Life After Fifty WAS NOT listed as a consulted organizations in the report.
  • Finally the synergy between the pool and the rest of the facility need to be examined which makes me feel that this is cynical chart and not one that is transparent.
Pg 133 of PDF
  • It is true that the majority of swimmers aren’t from Ward 2, but for portions of Ward 10, this is the closest community centre and pool.
    • The demographics and socio-economics of the north portion for Ward 10 have the financial capacity to drive to Adie Knox. Moving the pool down to College ave. isn’t going to impact them or their access capability.
      • Yet the lack of transit will impact Ward 2 Residents as one of the highest transit usage wards.
  • Additionally data doesn’t not capture cross usages? How many families have one sibling playing hockey and another sibling swimming? Will those families move to WFCU or another facility? Maybe those are the swimmers from Ward 5 or 6?
    • There is no demographics, maybe we have lots for seniors for Ward 2 but lots of kids form Ward 10? We don’t know.
      • There was no cross reference with Life After Fifty Membership. Are Ward 7 residents who have a LAF location at WFCU coming to swim with friends at Adie Knox? We have no idea.
    • Waterworld saw a significant decline (from memory) in usage when the pool closed. The community pushed back and the workout facilities and gymnasium were saved, yet the facility is still operated on a year to year basis.
      • Although the report outlines pool usage and it does not outline other usages in this report. I recognize that the ice pad at the arena attracts usage and a different demographic but it might synergize with the pool currently – one kid plays hockey, one kid swims which is being overlooked.
    • What happens if Adie Knox usage craters after the pool closes? An old arena, closed pool, a promise to build over several years that will need to be approved by future councils.
      • If the grant isn’t successful in a few years time is the whole facility could be back on the chopping block.
  • All the table above is disputing is that this is a “Ward 2 Pool” narrative which was never true, but the pool matters most to those 97 participants.

The Timeline

  • As outlined by Anne Jarvis there has been a long history trying to shutdown this parts of Adie Knox, whether the pool or the ice pad.
  • Back in December 2019, was the last time Adie Knox was on the chopping block. Councillor Costante requested and had approved a feasibility study of the enhancements of Adie Know (Walk Track, Gym) while accepting the Parks Master Plan and not closing the pool or ice pads at Adie Know. Exploring the University partnership was also approved but was a separate item.
    • The report that has been submitted is now that feasibility study and the University Partnership rolled into one.
  • In Feb 2020, City admin met with the University and suddenly the pool configuration changed to meet the requirements of City programming.
    • A conversation(s) occurred between administration and the University. The result was unilateral transformation of the University pool infrastructure. Maybe this was done out of the goodness of their hearts, if the deal was done before Council approval why do the City need $3 Million for capital on changes that the University has already undertaken? Maybe I misinterpreted the report, but it makes it seem like there is quid pro quo here.
  • On April 14th, the Green and Inclusive Community Building (GICB) Grant Program was announced. I recognize the timeline of July 6 is tight (84 days). Despite the city “just recently becoming aware of this grant” according to the report with nearly 3 months notice there was probably an opportunity to be more transparent with the Community.
    • One of the major requirements of the grant is that it support at risk or disadvantaged populations which is outlined by “social services” involvement.
pg 134 PDF
  • What I find interesting is that Social Services flagged a number of community centres.
    • The Census DA around Adie Knox a low income rate (AT- LIM 2016) 48.8%
    • The Census DA around Water World a low income rate (AT-LIM 2016) 78.2%
  • A quick question, was the Marlborough Community Centre that was attached to the public school considered for re-opening and enhancement? Yes it isn’t a pool but could the City have partnered with school board that just made a submission to the Ministry around a joint community centre and schools?
    • Did administration forget that the highest concentrations of poverty in West Windsor are West of Huron Church Road?
  • Fundamentally what happened was the City started a feasibility study requested by Councillor Costante on Adie Knox then was merged into this proposal at some point after last April, whether this was an administrative prerogative or something from the Mayor’s office is unclear.
    • The writing was probably on the wall back in 2019 when administration was directed to still explore partnership with the University. The feasibility study created a path of least resistance for administration to make a recommendation and allowed other atrisk communities to be ignored.
  • The City didn’t start engaging until June 1 with various internal committees and the broader community consultation did occur until a few days after for a period of one week. The report was released before the survey had been complete.
    • The “survey” (I put that in quotes because I would argue NOTHING OF VALUE CAN BE ACCOUNTED FROM THAT SURVEY) is an insult to the community at best and a manipulative process at worst.
  • This past week (June 15) I facilitated for my employer a CUI conversation on Windsor Work and Equity and the predominant theme of that conversation that emerged is that people and community group don’t trust the City.
  • Finally the Mayor has said this project will move forward in stages if not funded by the federal government. That great! What are the stages? If the Lancer Centre is schedule to open in 2022, and the existing pool is schedule to close after that (with some overlap), what does that staging look like?
    • If the process doesn’t breed trust, why should the community trust you?

Cost

  • If we are spending $42 Million on a new Adie Knox (or $29 Million with the feds chipping in the other $13 Million) that’s real money. IF a 1% levy increase is approximately $4 million this project is the equivalent of a 10% levy.
    • Framed another way, this project 2/5th of the city’s obligation for the Mega-hospital level requirement. We are talking real money and possibly tax increases.
  • I recognize there is money on the table and this is a great potential investment in West Windsor. My question is where is the money coming from?
    • What I did was take the Approved 2021 Capital budget for Parks and Recreation, I removed the 2021 expenditure line and transfer it to an Excel file.
      • The cost of this project and the transfer to the Lancer Centre with the grant equates to the ENTIRE Park and Rec capital budget for 2022-2024 and part of 2025.
      • It bleeds into 2026 without the grant with the $11.8 Million to be spent that year, Just over $10 Million going to Adie Knox.
    • There is NO PLACEHOLDER in the capital budget for project or any other projects like it! This not only means that if the grant doesn’t come through for immediate expenditure (outside of the budget process), the phasing could allow a future council to kill project elements.
  • To be fair, it isn’t just Park and Rec who will pay for this, it is less money for bike lanes, roads, sewers, laptops city staff and surplus dollars that normally would be saved for a rainy day to be spent. There is no pot of gold in the City’s revenue that I am aware of, this project will only move forward with cuts or delays in other capital priorities. Councillors should be mindful of this.
  • When digging into the figures on Table 3 (PDF Page 140) a few things caught my eye.
    • Massive contingency – A 25% variance in this is HUGE! I recognize construction costs are kind of crazy but they are both up and down but it actually isn’t for that (see below).
    • I recognize the need to maybe set aside $6.8M for variance but isn’t it also a way to pad the project cost when a quarter of your projects come 25% or less under budget (see below)!
    • Oh and if you are wondering if this is just because the price of lumber might go “TO THE MOON” every other day, there is 20% contingency for “premium market conditions” as well equaling $5.1M.
    • Another 15% contingency for external consultants as “Professional Fees” total $4.8M.
  • Based on this it could actually only cost $25.3 M investment, of which the federal government may pay $13.5M.
    • Pretty much $16.8 M on this project may never get spent yet we hear about unprecedent investment in West Windsor. A bunch of that investment is fluff to make someone look good.
    • Is there a commitment to keep that $11M in the West End if the project comes under budget? Hint… No.
  • Just a few weeks ago at council (PDF Page 120) the variance for 2020 capital projects came in of 549 projects – 500 came in on budget, 30 had a surplus and 19 had a deficit. Are all of these reserves needed city seems pretty good at estimating costs?
  • Now maybe there is a fund of money that has been saved from project surpluses to pay for this but any “fiscally conservative” Councillor who doesn’t ask these questions, isn’t a fiscal conservative.

Taking a Walk – Last weekend

  • Building looks great from the adjacent alleyway.
  • A few things I takeaway.
    • First much of the old parking, loading/unloading zones and idling areas were covered by the facility. The amount of parking at the front of building is somewhat limited due to the new structure. So the question is where the City of Windsor spots going to be? There is certainly space behind the facility but it is unclear from the alley what the back entrance looks like.
  • Building off of this, and looking at the images below, the parking lot is currently mark blue, which means it is pay and display, student permit lot. Meanwhile on another map, it flags the parking area for staff parking.
    • The question is this: How many spaces will be set aside for City of Windsor parking, how many spots will be in the lot, will they have to compete for students for those spots as shared lots often find spots taken by student (knowingly or unknowingly)?
  • Does the University expect swimmers and seniors to cross College Ave?
    • Here is a scenario in a January day when the Football team is on it’s off season strength program (which it does). Will there be enough parking spots for them and a class of aqua fit for seniors? Synergies matters on the University side too.

Parking!

  • One group that hasn’t spoke up are student.
    • I wonder if some of that $3 Million will be put against the “large student contribution to any university in Canada” to relive the tuition burden on future students?
      • They are out of school, off campus and have no avenue provide input, how do they feel about about a bunch of old people filling up their pool?
    • They are paying for the majority of this facility but now they are actually going to have less exclusive access to the facility?

A Deeper Relationship

  • I have heard rumbling that as a part of the implementation of Windsor Works is a formalization of the relationship and work of the University and the City.
    • A formal MOU that outlines the research and projects on campus that align to the City’s strategy.
    • Greater cooperation on joint ventures (like the pool) are encouraged.
    • Mechanisms like the advisory and oversight committee are proposed.
  • The implications are broad reaching yet there has been no public discussion of what this means beyond a Council debate on Windsor Works.
  • Let’s not forget that there is a $3 Million capital contribution plus $200k per year for the university in this agreement for at least a decade. The University made the changes themselves to the pool before council approved anything, unless there was an unauthorized quid pro quo, why should the city pay for that for alteration? Operationally it make sense to pay for access, but at only at $200k per year
  • It is great if the City and University are collaborating but if the community between City Hall and Assumption Hall are going to be ignored that is a problem.
    • I believe that the City has a Town and Gown Committee that should be engaged on these items, I don’t recall seeing a report to them (I don’t even know when they met last). Maybe the University should do some of it’s own engagement on this project as a part of the Carnagie Strategy before jumping into a pool?

Conclusions

  • What is being proposed is a potential generational investment during a time of a pandemic. Yet:
    • There is no community centre WEST of Huron Church road, the City sold that years ago (college ave).
      • Maybe you keep the pool at Adie Knox but put the gym and walking track West of Huron Church?
    • What we have is another mega facility, what if the $31-$42 Million was split in to 4 – $10M facilities?
  • We are just over a year from an election, that is what this is about. The Mayor is pre-empting the capital budget for electoral gains by leveraging a grant.
  • I will admit, I will probably benefit from this move as I have pool closer to my house. But:
    • This is not good city building,
    • This is not good consultation,
    • This does not build trust in underserved parts of the community,
    • This is not good process.
  • For those reason, this project shouldn’t forward at this time.

3 thoughts on “A Few Thoughts: Adie Knox

  1. Pingback: A Few Thoughts on Week 67 | gingerpolitics

  2. Thank you for your analysis. I happen to be the spokesperson for Friends of Adie Knox and that’s kept me so busy the last while I haven’t been on WordPress for months. Your conclusions are bang on. Why not keep the pool at Adie Knox?

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