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Seniors fighting to save Sherbrook Pool

Sherbrook best-suited for mobility issues

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Rose Kamins: desperately need pool.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Rose Kamins: desperately need pool. Photo Store

THERE'S an argument the Sherbrook Pool, closed last November, is too old and decrepit to worry about rehabilitating.

A waste of money.

There are those who don't share that feeling: seniors who suffer from multiple sclerosis, arthritis or fibromyalgia who say their health has deteriorated since the 80-year-old core-area facility was shut down abruptly five months ago for a "detailed structural engineering assessment" by the city.

"We so desperately need that pool," said Rose Kamins, 76, who has MS, arthritis, osteoporosis "and God knows what else."

"I felt I've gone a little downhill. My health has declined."

Kamins began attending Sherbrook aquacise classes in 2006. Now, she and her workout mates have been treading water in other facilities, such as the Cindy Klassen Recreational Centre and the North Centennial Pool, but with less-than-ideal results.

After all, Sherbrook was most often recommended to those suffering mobility issues, including hip and knee replacements, because it was "unusually well-suited" to swimmers with muscle atrophy or inflammatory issues, said Louise Lamb, who is organizing seniors in an effort to lobby city hall to reopen the pool. There were stairs into the pool, which had a gradual depth, and also equipment to lower wheelchairs into the water.

Sherbrook also contained what users agree is the warmest water of any public facility in the city.

"That's why all the arthritis and other sufferers went there," Lamb noted. "People were able to maintain their independence and stay out of high-cost (medical) situations. If we can't maintain our fitness, we're going to be a larger burden on the taxpayer."

The seniors have joined forces with Friends of the Sherbrook Pool, a community organization that lobbied government for more than $1 million in the 1990s to renovate the building. Both groups are awaiting the assessment report, which will be the basis for recommendations to the city's property development committee, which meets on May 7.

"We want assurances this won't be rushed though," said Marianne Cerilli, a spokeswoman for FOSP and a former city councillor. "We still don't have the report. Our concern is (a final decision) is going to be dumped on people and (a final decision) barrelled though. We've been kept completely in the dark."

Donna Pollock suffered a stroke 15 years ago and had attended Sherbrook classes for the last five years.

"The only therapy that's really helped me is swimming," she said. "It made such a difference in my movement. I'm in constant pain, and the pool makes a big difference because I can walk in the pool without fear of falling down and breaking anything. I feel safe.

"If they don't open that pool, I'm going to be in trouble."

randy.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 6, 2013 A4

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