Don’t sacrifice community pools for balanced city budgets.
Author: Jae Hur
Last summer, I had the privilege of working as a lifeguard at the Wascana Pool. Throughout the sunny days of July and August, I was familiarized with the happy faces of the young and old enjoying the wonderful amenities of an outdoor pool. Not too far away, there are other city-owned pools such as Dewdney, Maple Leaf, Massey and Regent that provide similar joy and happiness for the public.
Paradoxically, this immense happiness masks the eroded conditions of the city’s outdoor pools. Throughout the last couple years, the city has been fumbling around about what to do with these old pools. Take Wascana Pool for example, where the pool is over 50 years old and the maintenance will cost the city around 16.5 million dollars over the next 10 years. Stemming from this issue are six options that the city council can take, which include rebuilding the pools, shutting them down or pinpointing the free pools in inner-city neighborhood pools to be shut down.
As a lifeguard with the city, I strongly believe that the city should find a long-term solution to the issue, which is rebuilding and upgrading all the pools for many reasons. For one, if the city shuts any pool down, it will end up being the free Dewdney and Maple Leaf pools in North Central. Even though there is no true revenue generated from these pools, Dewdney and Maple Leaf provide immense intangible benefits for society. Kids from these neighborhoods stay at these pools all day and have a wonderful time away from trouble. Since daycare is not an option, these kids are in the hands of capable lifeguards that keep them safe while they have a wonderful time getting fit and having fun. I believe that rebuilding these pools will provide intangible benefits that better the North Central community and its kids.
It goes without saying that pools are a staple to a community. The question lies, do the prices of maintaining a pool turn it into a luxury rather then a necessity? Personally, I don’t think so. For one, getting the kids of a community familiar with the water increases the chances of them learning how to swim, which is an invaluable asset in safety and fitness. Secondly, maintaining a great pool will stimulate aquatic fitness teams for speed swimming, water polo, diving, and synchronized swimming, which give youth more chances to get involved. Additionally, the water is extremely therapeutic for senior citizens that want to maintain their fitness and is extremely helpful for handicapped and disabled individuals to get physiotherapy. Finally, shutting down the pools will be detrimental to the lifeguards, who are almost all students, who will have their shifts cut.
The pool is an important part of Regina and the city council must keep its doors open. The pool provides a haven for the inner-city youth that spend countless hours during the summer safe from trouble. It gives a platform for fitness and aquatic safety for all ages and gives students valuable money and work during the summer. But, most importantly, pools are one hell of a time. Please don’t shut them down.