Provincial cash for a new pool

St. Catharines Standard – Ontario, CA   20/04/2008    http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca

Quite often, this space is used to critique government and/or its programs.
But when government comes through and does something right, it should be recognized.
Such is the announcement last week that the province will pitch in $4.5 million for St. Catharines to build a new indoor swimming pool. The cash should cover about one-third of the expected construction cost.

In a city struggling to keep its budget at or near the rate of inflation, the provincial support to help build a pool is most
welcome.

In many respects, a pool seems like a luxury. Backyard pools are not standard in a home and people don't have an innate need to go swimming to maintain our health.
But this is a quality of life issue.

Swimming is good exercise and can be therapeutic for certain ailments.
It is also a fun family activity that brings people together and forges a sense of community.

Municipal swimming pools are typically busy centres of activity for people of all ages.

This aquatic centre will be fully accessible, opening its services to a large segment of the community that may have difficulty using the aged West Park pool.
All of that makes a new indoor pool a necessity for St. Catharines. The 31,000-square-foot facility will feature a 25-metre, six-lane rectangular pool and smaller heated pool for children and seniors. A splash pad will be incorporated into
the design.

This is a good project, and city council deserves credit for making it a city priority and pursuing the provincial support.
Municipal governments are charged with the responsibility of providing culture and recreation pursuits for residents, and this is the type of project that property taxes were intended to pay for – as opposed to the social housing and
Ontario Works costs that take so much of the tax dollars collected by Niagara Region.

Council will meet Monday night to start discussing locations, with the apparent frontrunner being Lester B. Pearson Park at Carlton and Niagara streets.
At first blush, it's a good, accessible location. Pray parochial politics doesn't bog down this debate so the city can move forward with designs and tenders – and a request to the federal government to match the provincial contribution.

Mayor Brian McMullan has pledged to seek federal dollars, and it would be nice to see a traditional three-way partnership sharing the cost of this project.

As with most public projects, this pool will no doubt be opened with a big photo opportunity for all the politicians involved in securing its funding, with their names going down in posterity on a little plaque that usually gets affixed inside the entrance to these places.

Longtime St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley will likely have his name on the plaque, and expect him to be there for the
opening, as he was on hand to make the announcement of the cash from the Dalton McGuinty government.

Similar support (and the recognition that follows) from the federal government would be a welcome addition to the resume of MP Rick Dykstra.

All he has to do is make it happen.