Mayoral candidate Murray dives into wading pool closures


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Most City of Winnipeg wading pools will be drained for the season by Aug. 19, making waves among those who believe the cooling amenity should be available throughout the summer.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/08/2022 (299 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Most City of Winnipeg wading pools will be drained for the season by Aug. 19, making waves among those who believe the cooling amenity should be available throughout the summer.

Mayoral candidate Glen Murray said he’s received several complaints about plans to shut down “almost all” wading pools by that date, which he believes is about two weeks ahead of schedule.

“They usually run through to September, and it’s usually weather adjusted… It’s very unusual in mid-August to be closing the wading pools,” said Murray, who served as Winnipeg’s mayor from 1998 to 2004.


Aurora, age seven (left) and Eva, nine, splash in the wading pool at Valour Community Centre in Winnipeg on Wednesday. It appears many wading pools are set to close by Aug. 19, which some complain is a few weeks ahead of schedule.

In an emailed statement, spokesman David Driedger confirmed 19 of Winnipeg’s 79 wading pools never opened for the 2022 season, noting the city has suffered from a shortage of attendants.

“This meant that some hours of service were impacted, and some locations had to be temporarily closed,” wrote Driedger.

He confirmed 44 of the 60 wading pools that did open will close for the season by Aug. 19. About 12 are expected to close Aug. 26, with the remaining four closing around Labour Day.

Driedger said wading pools typically open and close for the season on a staggered basis, which begins in early July, and began July 1 this year. Closures tend to start around mid-August, weather dependent.

He did not provide details on how many wading pools typically close by mid-August.

Murray deemed the many August closures as evidence of a “slow, steady” decline in recreation funding over the past 15 years — a trend he says reduced access to amenities that help foster strong communities and prevent crime.

It will hit low-income areas the hardest, he added.

“In neighbourhoods where people don’t have cottages and they don’t have swimming pools in their backyards… these recreational programs and these community programs and libraries are really the lifeblood, they’re what families have to go to in their communities… Closing wading pools in the middle of August just makes no sense.”

If elected, Murray said he would make recreation and community services a key budget priority and restore “traditional library and pool hours.”

“If you elect me, we will have (wading pools) right through to (early) September. We wouldn’t be closing them two to three weeks early,” he said.

Murray said further details on his recreation plan, and how he would pay for it, will be shared later in the mayoral campaign.

Meanwhile, the leader of the city’s largest union also deemed the August closures unusual.

“(In the past), quite often we’d be getting direction from council to extend pool (hours) sometimes into September, if there was a heat wave or it was quite hot out… In my decades working here, I’ve never seen this level of service cuts,” said Gord Delbridge, president of Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 500.

Delbridge blamed the closures directly on low employee pay, which he urged the city to increase as soon as possible.

“This (closure comes) a few weeks earlier than normal and there’s a direct relation to the shortage of staff. Once again, it’s an underpayment issue in a very competitive job market.”

Delbridge said many recreation staff have recently quit to accept higher-paid positions, though he could not provide an exact number of civic positions now vacant.

Murray is one of 14 candidates who has registered a mayoral bid. Winnipeggers will elect their next mayor and council Oct. 26.

Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.

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