Former lifeguard and swim instructor says North Peace’s new pool must meet current and future needs
We understand that the North Peace Recreation Pool Advisory Committee is seeking input from community members on the design of the proposed new facility, specifically the size of the main pool. Discussion centers on choosing to build a 25-meter, six-lane pool similar to the current facility at Fort St. John, or a 50-meter, 10-lane pool. The purpose of this letter is to express our strong recommendation that the ten lane, 50 meter option be chosen.
In support of our recommendation, we note the following:
Our family has been a resident of the North Peace region since 1920 and has been an avid user, supporter and member of the pool facilities and swim teams here for four generations. In its last few years of operation, I worked at the Fort St. John Centennial Pool as a PA-III lifeguard and swim instructor. In our opinion, the current 25-metre, six-lane pool was inadequately sized when it was built. The regional demand for competitive swim practices, hosting neighboring communities in competitions, and accommodating the various other daily public uses has consistently outpaced the capacity of our facilities for decades, and this has limited the development of our athletes in swimming and various other types of sports. , including kayaking, triathlon, scuba diving, synchronized swimming, water polo, school academy swim programs, adult fitness swimming, aqua fit, senior fitness, public swimming, and scuba diving, to name a few. Building another facility with a main pool of this size would be a serious and unfortunate underestimation of the needs of the community today and in the future. If taxpayer funds are to be used to build a new facility, then it must be the right size for the needs of the community. A ten lane, 50 meter pool would be adequate.
For many years, the swim teams at Fort St. John, the Stingray Summer Team, and the Inconnu Winter Team were unable to meet the demand from local families to include all the youth who wanted to join, in part due to the pool insufficient. size and availability. Last year, the Stingray summer team, which I was a member of in my own childhood, finally collapsed, leaving only the Inconnu winter team running. Due to the limited size of the pool, today the Inconnu team still has a waiting list and many of the families in our community are unable to access this opportunity to experience team sports. This is a direct example of the inadequacy of a six lane, 25 meter pool.
Along with the inherent physical health and mental well-being benefits of competitive swimming, the sport offers a wide variety of financial scholarships and other educational opportunities for youth. To achieve the level of competitive excellence required to earn this type of support, our athletes would need to train in a competitive group of the right size. A ten lane, 50 meter pool would allow for the long course training that is required. A six lane, 25 meter pool does not and would therefore continue to limit school opportunities for our youth.
A ten lane, 50 meter pool is an efficient, multi-purpose setup because it is wide enough to be used perpendicularly as a 25 meter pool for short course training. 50-meter pools, such as the one at the Eastlink Center in Grande Prairie, are equipped with rolling enclosures to provide quick pool configuration transitions to allow for more varied concurrent uses, meeting the needs of more contributors at one time.
In the Fort St. John region, businesses and public services, including health care and law enforcement, continue to have extreme difficulty recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce. Convincing families to move here and stay to live and work in the community is nearly impossible, and the inadequate development of our sports and recreation infrastructure, especially when compared to that of neighboring communities like the Eastlink Center in Grande Prairie, for example, is one of the significant contributing factors. A facility outfitted with a ten-lane, 50-meter pool is an undeniable commitment to new and existing residents that our community takes their health and fitness seriously. Another undersized facility would be an unimpressive disappointment for any family weighing the pros and cons of moving or staying here.
Life in the north is exceptionally challenging. The long winters, while beautiful, are brutal, especially for new residents unaccustomed to the hardships associated with insulation, cost of living, and climate. Our relatively transient workforce and the city’s inability to commit the resources necessary to maintain the appearance of our orderly and attractive streetscapes are additional problems that successive city administrations have yet to resolve. With our 100-year experience in this region, our family recognizes that Canadian society continues to shy away from adversity and is increasingly unwilling to forego the courtesies of a more developed metropolitan lifestyle. To compete and build our community, to create long-term stable growth and economic prosperity in Fort St. John, we must attract people here from places that are far more attractive by today’s standards and convince them to put down roots. The recreational facilities we build in our communities play a role in charting their future, particularly when communities face challenges like ours. To succeed in the North, we must place extraordinary emphasis and unwavering support for physical fitness, mental well-being, team sports, scholastic opportunities, social connection, camaraderie and friendship, community pride and as it relates to the theme of the day, just giving people a place to develop their excellence.
We have this opportunity to make good decisions now about building a facility that will serve our needs for decades. Let’s make sure they include the right group.
Fort Saint John