The Township Empire: our arena and pool

Uxpool: The swimming pool, across from the Legion on Franklin Street, was built in 1971. In addition to the main six-lane, 25-metre pool and its attendant dressing rooms, Uxpool, as its known, also has a squash court downstairs, as well as a small hall and classroom upstairs, which can be booked by the public for a variety of uses.

The pool is kept at a steady temperature of 28 C, which is a little warm for most competitive swimmers and public users (except seniors and toddlers!), and a little cool for therapeutic purposes. It’s a Goldilocks alternative.

The pool is heavily used from as early as 5:15 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. for a variety of users, from pre-schoolers literally just getting their feet wet, to highly skilled competitive swimmers. Two hundred and fifty to 300 users will go through on an average day. Pool manager Carolyn Clementson does all the scheduling herself, and is the pool’s only full-time employee. There are also five adult and as many as 30 student part-timers who serve as lifeguards, swim instructors, and program supervisors.

You may recall that when the Township acquired the Fields of Uxbridge, there was excitement about the possibly of a new pool on the site.

“We’ve done the consultation, we have the drawings,” says community services director Amanda Ferraro, “but the project will probably cost about $25 million, so we need grants or partners in order to go ahead.”

The Township currently has about $4 million in a reserve for the purpose.

The Township budgeted about $675,000 for pool operations in 2022, $425,000 of that for wages and benefits. They expect about $280,000 to come back in user fees.

The Arena: The arena on Brock Street West was built in two phases; the west pad and community centre in 1978, the east pad in 1997. The pads are of NHL size, and are each supplied with capacious dressing rooms. The west pad can accommodate 684 spectators, the east 954 (so it plays host to Uxbridge Bruins games). There are two boardrooms and a number of offices leased to user groups. On game days, more than 1,000 participants and spectators can pass through the arena doors.

The ice is on the pads from September through April, when arena manager Hunter Gardner is assisted by five full-time arena operators, four adult contract staff, both full and part-time, and four or five part-time students. In the late spring and summer, the ice is taken out, and the concrete pads are used for ball hockey, lacrosse and assorted large events. Although a great deal of maintenance is still carried out in the summer, two of the full-time staff were transferred to the parks department this season.

The concession stand in the lobby, which operates mostly evenings and weekends, is leased to a private operator. This has also been the case with the pro shop, but the Township is considering taking this operation in-house in the future.

Major user groups like the Uxbridge Skating Club, the Uxbridge Bruins and the North Durham Minor Hockey Association play a strong role in scheduling and advising on future development of the facilities. The Township budgeted about $1.38 million for arena operations in 2022, with more than $700,000 coming back through ice rental and other user fees.

In the May 21 tornado, a portion of the membrane on the roof of the west pad was torn away, and has been replaced. An HVAC unit above the community centre, which is adjacent to the arena, was ripped off its moorings (a backup is currently in service) and water damage was sustained through the building, with restoration nearly complete.

Conrad Boyce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Uxbridge Cosmos