Getting your feet wet

Students prepare for a swim at the Frank J. Dunn Swimming Pool inside Carlton -- Herald File Photo

Dulcie Charles and her daughter Christina are what you’d call “avid swimmers.”

How avid? Some people visit theme parks or tourist attractions when travelling. The Charles’ will stop for a swim in the local pool and check out the programming.

Given their love of swimming, it’s no surprised to hear they’d like an indoor aquatic centre in Prince Albert. In fact, they’re quite passionate about it.

“This is about the next generation,” Dulcie says. “If you want to retain the next generation in the community, you need places like this.”

However, their passion isn’t just born of a love of swimming. There’s also a professional component.

Dulcie and Christina are both physiotherapists who constantly urge their clients to become more active. Swimming is a great activity they say, especially for children and seniors. Current facilities like Marion Aquatics and the Frank J. Dunn pool, while welcome, are not getting the job done, especially when the weather turns cold.

“My biggest issue is there’s such limited swim times,” Christina says. “The user groups it’s serving are just so limited. What we need out of this is a facility that’s well used, so it isn’t sitting idle.”

“It just gives people more opportunity to be physically active and promotes healthy living,” adds Dulcie, who also worries about Frank Dunn’s lack of accessibility and family change rooms.

The Charles’ aren’t alone in their passion, at least, according to results from the city’s Community Service Master Plan Survey.

The official data was presented at Monday’s executive committee meeting and made available to the public at a pair of open house presentations. A total of 442 residents responded to the survey, with roughly two-thirds of those respondents listing a new indoor aquatics facility as a top five priority. By comparison, new indoor playground facilities and a new youth drop-in centre tied for a distant second at 29 per cent each.

For outdoor facilities, 38 per cent of responders identified adding another spray park as a top five need.

The results of the survey came as no surprise to the Charles’, or to some of Prince Albert’s city councillors.

Ward 7 Coun. Dennis Nowoselsky has long championed the building of a new indoor aquatic centre, which he believes will help boost local tourism. He’s hoping the results of the survey will spur some action.

“You’ve got to start looking at avenues for funding,” he says. “It’s got to be a whole community project that’s going to take a lot of money. When we planned the Rawlinson it took 10 years, by the time we did a feasibility study and raised some of the money. It wasn’t done overnight, but it was done and this is, I think, a similar project.”

Nowoselsky says Prince Albert residents need only look down the highway to Melfort to see how successful a well-maintained indoor aquatic facility can be. He plans on bringing a motion before council before the end of the calendar year to get people thinking about a plan, but he’s not the only one who wants to see action.

Mayor Greg Dionne says the city has had a new indoor aquatics facility on its radar for roughly a year. Once the upcoming budget deliberations are done, he says council plans to meet and hammer out a plan.

“Yes, it’s on our radar and it’s been on our radar for the last year or so, and we soon hope to make an announcement on what our plans are for the new aquatic centre.”

@kerr_jas •