Seeking a swimming hole

West Enders go without a city pool while Sherbrook and Cindy Klassen are closed

Mike Sudoma

Swimmers of the West End are high and dry at the moment, but hopefully not for that much longer. 

The Sherbrook Pool was officially closed in 2012. On the webpage for Sherbrook Pool, patrons have been redirected to the pool at the Cindy Klassen Recreation Complex. However, the Cindy Klassen pool, has been closed for maintenance since late August, and won’t be open again until Sept 26.

That leaves few affordable swimming options for downtown and the West End in the meantime, and for city pools, it means traveling further afield.

“If you’re not going (to the YMCA), then it’s North Centennial on Sinclair, or St. James, the one on Ness for another city pool, or you can go to Pan Am,” Marianne Cerilli, chair of the board of Friends of Sherbrook Pool, explains. “That’s where I go too, I go to Klassen.”

At times like these, when there isn’t a city pool to be found in the whole West End and downtown area, the void left by Sherbrook Pool is felt deeply.

“The pool was really used by diverse populations in the neighbourhood,” Cerilli explains. “There’s people that work downtown that use the pool, there’s people that live here, there’s seniors, there’s youth. I think it’s a pool that because it was warm, it was used by a lot of people with disabilities and mobility challenges.”

According to Friends of Sherbrook Pool, who have been working to preserve the pool and support its programming, it will have been closed for three years this November.

“It was in the afternoon. (Swimmers) were just told to remove their stuff and the pool had been found to have beams that were corroded and unsafe,” Cerilli says.

The future of the pool was uncertain at first, but Friends lobbied to keep the pool and finally, in May 2014, the City of Winnipeg announced that they would be repairing and re-opening the swimming facility. Repairs costing more than $4 million were to be footed by the City, the Province, and the Kinsmen Club of Winnipeg.

Friends and other fans of Sherbrook Pool got more good news on June 3 when construction officially began. The City projected that the pool would reopen in early 2016, and they still anticipate meeting this deadline. 

“Repair work is progressing at the Sherbrook Pool,” Kailey Barron, communications projects officer at the City of Winnipeg, states. “Specifically, crews are currently working to reconstruct concrete floors, upgrade the plumbing, and install a new HVAC system.”

While construction crews are rebuilding the pool, Friends are rebuilding the programs previously run at the pool. Cerilli says that they’re taking a collaborative programming approach with the city. 

“Programming for the pool is going to be done jointly with the city and community organizations working together to plan programs and the schedule for the pool, and that’s really a new thing in the city and a first.”

They’ve held focus groups and created a survey to collect the community’s input. If you’re landlocked and hope to swim locally in the New Year, now’s the time to have your say.

Published in Volume 70, Number 2 of The Uniter (September 17, 2015)

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