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Sharks eager to get back into water at Sherbrook Pool

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The Friends of Sherbrook Pool is worried the pool will be just a drop in the bucket at community forums this month in the Daniel McIntyre ward.

The group fears the pool, which has been closed for nearly a year because it needs repairs, will barely make a wave at the forums because it is just one in a long list of recreation concerns.

"We would like to see a long-term plan for the Sherbrook Pool and we really want to work with the city to develop that plan," FOSP chairwoman Marianne Cerilli said at a news conference Thursday. "I'm just not sure that these consultations, in the context that they're in with looking at everything from tot lots to arenas, if that's going to lead to the long-term plan that we really want for the pool."

The consultations, conducted by Probe Research Inc. of Winnipeg, also include interviews with 20 community stakeholders, eight focus groups and a phone survey of 400 residents. A report with the results is expected Dec. 1.

"We want to make sure that once the report is issued, there's going to be money in the budget to get the pool fixed and opened," said Cerilli, noting the facility needs $2 million in structural repairs, which was detailed in last summer's engineering report.

"The $2 million cost for repairing the pool is a very reasonable amount of money to have a fully functioning pool that is safe for the community to use. That money should have been invested in the pool immediately, prior to any consultations like the ones we're entering into," she added.

Coun. Harvey Smith (Daniel McInytre) said the consultation's eight focus groups include the FOSP, the Sherbrook Sharks swim club, sports organizations, aboriginal services, seniors, youth, children and new Canadians.

"It's important to look at total recreation for the neighbourhood. My area generally lacks recreational facilities. Generally, we have very little green space," Smith said. "The Friends of Sherbrook Pool want to focus on the Sherbrook Pool, and I understand that, but we don't know what the questions (in the survey) are, and what percentage of them are on the Sherbrook Pool."

Sharks swimmer Emily Welty, 11, said the Sherbrook Pool is within walking distance for most of the club's 40 members but the club has lost 15 kids because of the distance to its temporary location at the Cindy Klassen Recreation Complex on Sargent Avenue.

"Our regular attendance has also gone down due to the fact that swimmers are not able to (find) the transportation they need to our temporary location," Emily said. "Countless kids have been missing out because the pool has been closed for almost a year."

In a letter to Mayor Sam Katz in January, former Olympic swimmers Rhiannon Leier-Blacher and Michelle Lischinsky wrote: "We believe you need to start with the most pressing problem, namely to develop a plan to reopen Sherbrook Pool. Long term, the city must develop a plan to ensure swim facilities are maintained so young people have access to the same opportunities we did."

The Nov. 14 meeting is at 7 p.m. at the Magnus Eliason Recreational Centre and the Nov. 18 meeting is at 7 p.m. at the Robert Steen Community Centre.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 8, 2013 B3

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