This was a tough decision for me, especially as we started to hear heartfelt support for the pool staying open. I indeed supported reconsideration of the decision at a second council meeting in order for council to have more discussion and thought. I ultimately voted again for the conversion but, again, it was not an easy decision at all.
McDonald Park pool is 58 years old. It’s starting to show its advanced age. Usage at the pool is low comparably to other community pools in Kamloops. (Although thats not saying, in any way, that the users are not passionate and important. I’ll get to that in the next paragraph). The public subsidy per swim is about $18. The pool is in need of a drain replacement and there is the chance of more expensive repairs in the near future. A pool replacement would be in the million of dollars.
McDonald Park pool has undoubtedly been a historical anchor for the neighbourhood. Many neighbourhood families have benefited from an affordable recreation opportunity very close by. As a much younger person, I have fond memories of a session of swimming lessons in the summer sun at the pool. The lifeguards and staff at the pool have worked with many neighbourhood youth, passing on various important life lessons. We had a very active group of concerned citizens who asked council to keep the pool open.
I would not have supported the closure of McDonald Park pool if nothing was coming in place. The expanded spray park and new wading pool, to me, was very important. My feeling is that, on balance, more citizens would be better served from this. The wading pool at Prince Charles Park is such an incredibly vibrant place. We would be serving children, parents, and grandparents. And these amenities will be more affordable - i.e. free - for people and more affordable for the community as a whole.
This does leave a gap, though. I want to acknowledge that. There are youth, families, and individual citizens who are feeling the loss of the pool. The fact that the pool was dismantled the day after the vote on the conversion upset some citizens.
Going forward, I would love to be part of conversations and initiatives to help people impacted to easily access Brock pool / another community pool or to find equally satisfying replacement activities.