Community rallies around pool
Potential closure of Transcona Pool has residents worried
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This article was published 07/02/2020 (1144 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Transcona residents want to keep their pool open, and they’re letting the City know.
On Feb. 5, a small but vocal group of local residents gathered at the Transcona Kinsmen Centennial Pool to express their concern over a proposal to close the pool in 2022.
“There’s anger and dissatisfaction,” said Claudette Wills, a user of the pool who at the time of the rally had collected over 250 signatures on a petition to keep the pool open. “A lot of parents aren’t aware that this is happening.”
As part of the City of Winnipeg’s ongoing multi-year budget process, it has been proposed that the Transcona Kinsmen Centennial Pool could be closed in 2022 to save costs. Built over 50 years ago, the indoor pool is one of many aging facilities in the city that will require significant investment to keep open or to make accessible in years to come.
“It’s a complex issue,” said Coun. Shawn Nason (Transcona). “The Kinsmen Pool is at an age that it’s probably past its useful life, but I’m certainly not looking to close it tomorrow.”
In 2018, 14,525 people registered for various programs at the pool, and over 5,000 people used it on a drop-in basis. Numbers for 2019 were not available at press time.
Parents with children in swimming lessons and seniors who use the pool who attended the rally on Feb. 5 were concerned there could soon be nowhere left to swim within the community.
“We use the pool for swimming lessons once a week, we use it for public swim,” said Jenna Bihun, a local mother of three who grew up using the pool.
“If it closes, we really have nowhere else to go. Swimming is a necessity. If (my kids) have nowhere to learn to swim, I don’t know what we’re going to do.”
“We can’t lose this pool,” said Maggie Gostick, a Transcona mother of two. “They closed Bernie Wolfe already. How many people already don’t get into swimming lessons? Tons. You need stuff like this in the community.”
This past summer, the pool at Bernie Wolfe Community School (95 Bournais Dr.) was decommissioned. Prior to the closure, swimming lessons were held at the pool three days a week.
“I am very, very tired of services being cut down in our area,” Rose Small, a Transcona resident who regularly attends Aquasize classes at the Transcona Pool, told The Herald. “We need our pool and we need it here. I’m an old lady and I can’t go driving around the whole damn city.”
“My granddaughter lives just down the street and she uses this pool all the time,” said Perry Bernier, who lives not far from the pool. “This is what we have, and now they’re going to take it away? That’s not right.”
In a lively discussion Nason, who attended the rally on Feb. 5 to discuss the issue with residents, said the possibility of the pool closure was about choices that the mayor and city council are tasked with as part of the ongoing budget process.
“The mayor is not choosing families, or generational use,” Bernier replied.
If the Transcona Kinsmen Centennial Pool were to close, the outdoor Transcona Aquatic Park would remain open, Nason said, though it would need a significant upgrade to the existing washrooms.
Nason has been pushing for the City to commit to funding the East of the Red Rec Plex. In 2018, a feasibility study was completed for the proposed recreation complex, which would be located next to the new Transcona Library (1 Transcona Blvd.). Recently, a motion directing the City to look at entering into a private-public partnership to build the facility was moved by the East Kildonan-Transcona community committee.
“To see a proper rec complex with a full-sized gym, pool, fitness centre, meeting space would be ideal for Transcona and beyond,” Nason said.
However, while residents agreed a new facility would be great for the area, some expressed concern at the possible cost to such a facility might be.
“There’s talk about a developer opening up a pool, but I’m not interested in that,” Gostick said. “But we need something in the community that is affordable.”
“We’ve heard all these different things,” Wills said. “But it just goes around and around and around and nothing changes.”
City council will be voting on the 2020-23 budgets in March.
Sheldon Birnie is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at email@example.com Call him at 204-697-7112