(Today’s Northumberland file photo)
By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Meghan Thomas told Cobourg council Monday that their plan to shut down Centennial Pool is getting a sudden swell of public reaction because the way it was handled frankly blindsided everyone.
“That a beloved public facility in town would be immediately closed with no explanation of what would replace it was buried on page 135 of a 190-page budget document in just 10 words,” Thomas pointed out.
“No wonder people were shocked. That kind of move requires fair notice, transparency and open communications.”
Thomas’s own reaction was to spread the word and start an on-line petition against the closure. Just since last Thursday, she said, it has garnered more than 2,000 signatures.
Her arguments on keeping it open centre on three themes – happiness, health and heritage.
“We need spaces in town that will help people engage in happy activities,” she said, recounting a typical summer day at the pool.
Early-morning lane swimmers focus on individual fitness. The subsequent aquafit class members – many of them seniors – are looking to get fit too, but still find the time for gossip and giggles.
Parent-and-baby swims and kids’ swimming lessons ensue and, for many of these children, it’s the only pool they have access to. Then comes open swimming time where users of all ages and all abilities enjoy their time in the sparkling water.
It’s true that there is an indoor pool at YMCA Northumberland – which operates Centennial Pool on behalf of the town. But the Centennial Pool offers fresh air, sunshine and a wonderful location close to both downtown and the beach.
“The last thing we want after months of winter is to be forced to exercise indoors,” Thomas stated.
When exercise is enjoyable, it becomes a part of people’s routines. And learning how to swim helps prevent our children being among the statistics of Canadians lost each year in preventable drowning incidents.
“We need public and accessible opportunities for children and families to have fun and keep busy and be active. We know that is important for the long-term health of individuals and our community,” she said.
As for heritage, the pool has a half-century history in the community. Like Victoria Hall, it is old and beloved. And in both cases, supporters realize it is an aging asset that will require investment to stay open.
“Budgeting is more challenging now than it has ever been. However, just because something is old and it might be expensive to maintain, that doesn’t mean we get rid of it,” Thomas argued.
The on-line petition is bringing comments from people who have brought children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to enjoy it. It is also bringing in stories from people who helped fundraise to build it in the first place.
“You heard the message from thousands of voices – keep the pool open this year, and we want to find a way to keep it open long-term if necessary,” she urged.
Council voted to receive the presentation and refer it to the current budget deliberations