Lisa Gervais: Time for county to revisit a pool
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | July 26 2018|
Our story on Minden Hills’ plan to revamp its arena has again touched off a community-wide debate on the need for an indoor swimming pool in Haliburton County. Most of the people who responded to our Facebook post last week were critical of council, asking questions such as why a decision had to be rushed and whether all possible research had been done to eliminate a pool option. It’s a debate that has raged as long as I’ve lived in the county, and for many years before my move here.
Unfortunately, for Minden Hills council, a decision about their township’s arena has spiralled into a county-wide pool discussion. That should tell them, and county councillors and staff, that it’s time this perceived community need goes to the county council table since no one municipality should be burdened with the cost of building and operating a swimming pool. Further, no one township should be tasked with doing the appropriate studies to determine if the county needs and can afford a pool.
But, before this goes to the county, there has to be a change in attitude from our incumbent elected officials. The majority of them have been saying no to a swimming pool for years. At MH, Mayor Brent Devolin has described last week’s response as coming from a “vocal minority.” He insists that Minden Hills will sign off on the arena revamp – without a pool – when they meet today.
But, when you stop to think about it, this community was able to raise millions of dollars to build two hospitals when a need was identified. So, rather than our sitting politicians continuing to insist it can’t be done, why not strike a committee of county council after the next election to do the appropriate studies, research the kind of money needed, and possible ways to raise it. The reason this issue has not been put to bed is the public hasn’t seen its need and want disproved.
In addition to a change in attitude, there will have to be a shift from parochial arguments about where a pool would go. Some have argued County Road 21 between Minden and Haliburton is the ideal location. With all due respect to our friends in Algonquin Highlands and Highlands East, that does make sense.
Perhaps the municipal financial input can also be rated based on population size. That way, Haliburton and Minden would be paying more than AH and HE. Possible tax levy implications would have to be calculated and grants and public fundraising researched. We need to know why smaller centres, such as Deep River, can afford pools while we seemingly cannot. Work has been done on this issue to date and is sitting on shelves. It’s time to dust it off and update it.
And for those 70-plus people who commented on our Facebook page, it’s not enough to point fingers at politicians and criticize. If you want a pool, then get involved. Consider joining a task force and consider how much you are willing to extract from your wallets and purses every year to pay to build and maintain a pool. In other words, put your time and money where your mouth is. One way or the other, it’s time to put this debate to rest.
Lisa Gervais is the editor for The Highlander.