Aquatic Recreation Centres (ARCs) aren't just for kids. And they aren't just about swimming either.
Aquatic Centres are an important contributor to the wellbeing of citizens and they are a booster to the local economy. They provide us with an escape from the pressure of daily life and they inspire us to live healthier lives and enjoy the benefits of physical activity. It is proven that people who use pools have fewer sick days and are more productive at work and in life.
Pools yield a strong social capital gain because they strengthen communities and bring people together, be it with group fitness, swim clubs or other community swim programs.
The most important programming for a pool are year round aquatic education, recreational swim hours, group classes and swim clubs.
Leisure benefits of pools include personal benefits (self esteem, fitness, health, leadership), social benefits (community connections, pride, decreased medical expenses) and economic benefits (employment opportunities, sponsorships, economic development choices).
Besides swim safety for all ages, moving in water provides benefits to physical health (i.e. arthritis, surgical recovery, organ health, musculoskeletal mobility) and mental health (anxiety, depression, autism, stress). According to the WHO (2010) pools yield health care savings of 350US$ for each person under 65, and 700US$ for each of us over 65 years of age.
With a pool, we can finally enjoy aquatic education, aquatic fitness classes, sports clubs, health clubs (hydrotherapy), childcare, recreation swims, steams and saunas, specific population programs, facility rentals, health services (physiotherapy, occupational therapy, athletic therapy, etc.), school aquatic education (swim safety) and school aquatic programs (i.e. diving clubs) all year round.
Morden already is the recreational gate the Pembina Valley. An ARC will make Morden a prouder community and will attract more regional tourism.
As someone who works in health care I can only agree. Because it’s been in discussion for 35 years I can understand how some people are tired of it. But we need to, again, take a very close look at a public pool, because now is the time to set ourselves apart from other communities as the recreational hotspot in the Pembina Valley. We cannot miss out on this one.
Aquatic Recreation Centres (ARC) aren't just for kids. And they aren't just about swimming either. Swimming benefit all of us:
- Seniors: Joint, muscular and organ health
- Community: Post-surgical recovery (physiotherapy)
- Children: Swim Safety
- Youth/Young adults: Swim and diving competitions
- Community: Mental health benefits
- New Parents: Mom/Dad & Toddler Time
- Community: Multiple-day events / swim competitions
- Adults: Recreational swims, Swim Clubs, Group Fitness
Now is the time to start planning - within the next four years we are entering a unique window of time where we could stand out and build the image as the recreational capital of the Pembina Valley.
I will work as hard as I can to get us a pool. I will be honoured to help this committee and get our community the recreation it deserves. Once we have our wastewater under control, we are due for a large capital project and I think an ARC would be the right way to invest for the future success of our community.
When it comes to financing an Aquatic Centre, there are two main concerns: 1) Construction Costs and 2) Operating Costs (a.k.a. "non recoverable losses").
(1) When it comes to building a pool, we as a community are looking at a major capital project. An Aquatic centre that can offer 6x25m swimming lanes, a recreational area (hot tup, steam room, lazy river, underwater jets and a space for therapeutic services), a fun area for kids (slides, low entry pool) will cost around $30 million. Funding for this investment comes from a range of sources, the largest being federal and provincial grants, provincial and regional health and naming rights (bigger companies love investing a large community health and sport programs). As a city we could also tap into our lending capacity (which currently is around $48 million). Funds through raising taxation is not something I would stand behind, especially since inflation and higher costs of living is challenging all of us already (and we already pay $300.000 annually for the ice rinks at the AEC). Some of you might say that now is the worst time to build a pool - but when is it the best time to build one? Nothing gets cheaper the longer we wait.
(2) Operating costs will run at about $220.000 annually - this is the biggest concern amongst Mordenites, so how can we fund this sustainably? Please keep in mind that I am not on council yet and I don't have all the inside information, this is just what I am hearing by sitting in council meetings for a year. There are multiple avenues we can take: The revenue from Lake Minnewasta currently runs about $200.000 annually, by increasing lake recreation (Yurts, Trails, Games in winter, more camping and events in summer) we can increase annual returns, which can contribute to the pool's operating costs; we can, as we did this summer, take one sheet of ice out at the AEC between May and September, which saves us about $50.000; we could look at funding help through the school districts; we could allocate some taxes arising from new businesses (attracted by the Aquatic Centre) coming to Morden; we can reallocate existing moneys, i.e. funds from direct economic development grants, covering up to 25% of the operating costs; and if our wastewater solution is approved in January 2023, we could take up to $100.000 of the current operational costs (because the next system would actually save us some money). Additionally to that we have user fees from locals and visitors from the greater region. So by the looks of it, it's doable and I cannot wait to pull up my sleeves and get to work. Right now we are in a unique window of time to help this project onto its feet.