Kirkton-Woodham Swimming Pool Committee looks to the future

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Mar 03, 202223 minutes ago4 minutes read Join the conversation

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SOUTH HURON – Members of the Kirkton-Woodham Swimming Pool Committee spoke at council’s Feb. 22 meeting about their hope to continue to collaborate with its municipal partners and plan for the future.

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Pool committee chair Keary Fulton-Wallace and secretary Pam Benoit provided South Huron councilors and staff some background on the Kirkton-Woodham Pool, which was built in 1977 by the community. After the pool was built, ownership was transferred to Blanshard and Usborne townships in the 1980s, and since amalgamation in 2000, the pool became the responsibility of South Huron and Perth South, along with their partner the volunteer Kirkton-Woodham Swimming Pool Committee. (While the two municipalities share the financials of the pool, South Huron is the administering municipality and the committee helps with some of the day-to-day operations.)

“These three partners worked very collaboratively to support the community and the valued resource of the Kirkton-Woodham Pool,” Benoit said.

Benoit said the six-lane pool is well used, and in 2021, when the pandemic meant it was only open every second week, the pool still had 2,492 public swim participants, 181 who took lessons, 302 who participated in aquafit and lane swims, and 16 who took bronze medallion and cross courses.

Benoit said she has already received inquiries about pool rentals this summer, and she spoke of how busy registration nights and the annual fun night are at the pool. She said pool use leads to the use of the other facilities at the property such as the playground and the library in the community centre.

The fun night, hosted by the pool committee with help from the Kirkton-Woodham Optimist Club, includes a barbecue and door prizes for children and parents.

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“It’s just a fun night where the community comes together in support of our pool,” Benoit said.

She said there are many benefits of having the pool, including that it promotes fitness, provides summer jobs, improves mental health, improves personal safety through swimming lessons, and more. The committee also receives community donations which allow the committee to buy equipment for the pool.

But Fulton-Wallace said the working partnership at the pool “appears to be strained.” She said the pool committee was told in January that all future communications needed to go through Coun. Ted Oke and no municipal staff would be attending committee meetings. Fulton-Wallace said the committee valued having municipal staff at its meetings and “this is an unexpected change. So we really want to have more participation.”

The pool committee chair said they would like to see South Huron, Perth South and the committee work collaboratively on an operational plan and a capital plan for the pool, and she said a meeting between the two municipalities is needed to discuss the capital plan.

The committee says the pool building needs to be replaced by 2025 to meet Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) standards.

“We feel that it’s vital that all parties, which includes South Huron and Perth South and the pool committee, need to be involved in budgeting, operations, research and implementation for the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act capital plan and to build for our future ,” Fulton-Wallace said.

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“We want to … stress again the importance that we have to collaborate to develop the capital plan because the pool building does need to be replaced.”

Fulton-Wallace said the committee wants to meet the needs of all patrons of South Huron and Perth South.

South Huron chief administrative officer Dan Best told the Times-Advance the pool agreement between South Huron and Perth South was extended and is in its last season. He said at some point there will need to be a conversation regarding future capital planning for the investment renewal into the facility.

“Conversations need to take place between the two municipalities,” he said. “That’s something that I anticipate will happen at some point in the future, but that would be a decision that council would make.”

Best said the committee has a long history of supporting the pool and offering expertise. He pointed to the fundraising the committee has done that has helped with the purchase of items for the pool, and said the passion the pool committee members have shown the facility over the years “can’t be understated.”

“They’ve definitely helped enhance and provide supports to the pool over the years,” the CAO said.

“I don’t think there (are) any issues that can’t be overcome through good discussion and dialogue, and role clarity is something that is always important so that everybody knows what everybody’s role is so that we can support one another.”

Best said one of the conversations that needs to take place is the future of the pool building, and that one of the determinations needs to be made is whether or not it needs to be replaced or if there are other options available. He said both municipalities have invested in accessibility projects at the facility in the past.

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“One of the things we need to look at is have we addressed all the AODA issues? And if not, what are the outstanding issues? But it’s a pretty solid building.”

Best said the municipality is “going full steam ahead” with plans to open both the Kirkton-Woodham Pool and the Exeter Pool this season. He said interviews for lifeguards have started and the chair of the pool committee has sat in on those.

Oke, who represents the municipality on the pool committee, described himself at last week’s council meeting as a big proponent of the pool and the community centre.

“I’m very passionate about it,” he said. “I look forward to further dialogue.”

Oke said an example of how effective partnerships could be occurred when a lift was needed at the pool and the municipality helped the committee successfully apply for a grant.

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Mike Hunter

Mike is the owner of the local pool shop. He's been in the business for over 20 years and knows everything there is to know about pools. He's always happy to help his customers with whatever they need, whether it's advice on pool maintenance or choosing the right chemicals. He's also a bit of a pool expert, and is always happy to share his knowledge with anyone who's interested.

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