December 5, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
AN inner-city swimming club is struggling to keep its programs afloat after the Sherbook Pool was closed suddenly last week.
The Sherbrook Sharks Swim Club was displaced from its local pool without notice when the city closed the Sherbook Pool after an inspection. The city said the pool is expected to remain closed for an "extended period of time" while a detailed structural engineering assessment is performed by a private engineering firm assisting city staff.
Sherbrook Sharks club president Karla Dueck Thiessen said the city has provided the 35 Sharks members with new waters to swim in, at the Cindy Klassen Recreation Complex, but transportation is a roadblock for the children, aged 7 to 15.
"We're grateful for the City of Winnipeg's continued support but we've actually had a good chunk of our swimmers not show up for the last few days because they haven't been able to get there," Dueck Thiessen said. The kids usually swim four times a week for two hours at a time.
"I've been making some calls to see if we could get some bus tickets donated to help us out with getting these kids to the pool because a lot of these families, their parents don't have vehicles."
She has contacted the city's aquatics department and Daniel McIntyre Coun. Harvey Smith to see if any assistance is available to the club.
"Many of our swimmers walk to practice and we are hoping that the pool can reopen quickly so we can continue to provide this great program to the local children in our community," she said.
Dueck Thiessen said she was allowed inside the building last week to collect the club's belongings and indications are the 80-year-old facility will be closed until next summer or longer.
"I saw the issue and it's not a quick fix. It's a support beam holding up the roof structure. I only saw one of the beams but it was pretty badly deteriorated. If they're all like that, it's a huge job," she said.
"Repairing it is going to be very expensive and very time-consuming. With the age of the pool, we certainly hope the city sees it as worth fixing. I do know we need this pool in our neighbourhood. I've lived here for 15 years and it's one of the only things that families can do together for relatively little or no cost."
The swim club's financial future is also tied to the pool, she said.
"We need it to stay open and in the long term, it doesn't help to shuttle us off to another pool," she said. "We're grateful for that right now and we'll try to make it work short-term but even our funding that we get from the community clubs is dependent on the fact that we are serving the kids in our neighbourhood," said Dueck Thiessen, who has two children who swim with the Sharks club.
She said the City of Winnipeg provides the club with a grant each year for pool time at the Sherbrook Pool and many businesses and community agencies also support the club with donations and funding.
"It's a pretty old pool and it has deteriorated over the years. Minor repairs have been made from time to time but a big renovation is needed so we're really hoping they (the city) see the value in that," Dueck Thiessen said. "We really want to see this pool reopened, whatever it takes to do it."
The majority of Sherbrook's fall swimming lessons were moved to other pools but winter programs will not be offered at the facility.
WHAT SHARKS SWIM CLUB MEMBERS ARE SAYING ABOUT THE CLOSURE OF THE SHERBROOK POOL:
"I like the warm water at the Sherbrook Pool and being able to be a part of the Sherbrook Sharks Swim Club where I can learn to swim fast and be healthy."
-- Aiden, age 9
"I have been going to the Sherbrook Pool since I was a baby. I like that the Sherbrook Pool is so close I can walk there by myself now. It feels like home!"
-- Jubilee, age 12
"I like going to the Sherbrook Pool because the water is warm and the staff are very helpful and friendly."
-- Angelina, age 11
"I treasure what I have been able to learn at the Sherbrook Pool; how the programs I have been a part of have nurtured me, and the friendships I have developed there. It has so much history and I am a part of it!"
-- Ruthanna, age 11
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 6, 2012 B1