Yesterday [October 22] a council report came to my attention Swimming Pool Operation Review and Recommendations [to be tabled at MidCoast Council ordinary meeting on Wednesday, October 25].
I was shocked to read of the intention to reduce the [MidCoast] LGA (local government area) pool hours and the closure of Krambach and Wingham* pools. This is a disaster for our community.
Community pools are areas where children learn to swim, interact and play safe with each other. Parents are often living out of town, isolated from neighbours, [and use the pools to] meet with other parents to chat, learn from each other and network, which connects communities. [The pools are] a true social and mental health benefit for the families in rural areas.
For pre-teens and teenagers the pool has a soft landing for supervised rough house play that many boys, especially, seem to require, and it's a fabulous sporty area for teenagers and youngsters to interact, teaching them social skills and allowing boys and girls to play. Play is becoming a lost art with organised sport, regulated after school activities, and individual screens.
For families the pools are places where mum and dad can play, compete, laugh and occasionally rough house with their kids. Many of the pool complexes have barbecues and picnic tables that are used by pool users.
Then there are the middle, the men and women who swim for leisure, fitness and [those who] need to do low impact exercise or physiotherapy for joint pain or recovery. Many like to come at the quiet times and to have the freedom to grunt, huff and puff, not to feel embarrassed in front of others and feel proud of themselves .
For the elderly, "my community" and it is my community, we come on our own and cool down, read a book, and take some time out for ourselves. We come in groups and exercise; laugh; share stories, recipes and problems; solve problems, and encourage each other that everything will be okay. We have our cups of tea for birthdays, Pancake day, St Patrick's Day and our Christmas party each year for our Aqua Aerobic Group, and I'm sure all the pools have residents in the LGA that do the same.
To send out the report a few days before the MidCoast Council meeting to vote on closures is appalling and an insult to the communities that fundraising committees and local business donated money to, to build the facilities for their residents.
I feel that MidCoast Council looked around and said "Okay, this is an easy way to save money" without thinking of the residents' health and well-being in the isolated, poor public transport, rural towns that they are supposed to serve.
*Editors note: The MidCoast Council report is not proposing to close Wingham Memorial Swimming Pool at this time. The report notes that the Wingham pool is old and in poor condition, and recommends "that this pool be managed without significant investment until such time as the risk or cost is too great, at which time the pool be closed".
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