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Nov. 12, 2019 | Tuesday
Local News
Plans unveiled for new St. Davids pool
A rendering of the new pool in St. Davids. (Supplied)

Elaine Aldridge-Low has been swimming at the St. David’s Community Pool since she was 11 and was pleased overall with the plans she saw for the new pool during a community open house last Wednesday. But she also had some concerns.

Instead of a ladder, the new pool will incorporate a “beach-entry,” which gradually slopes from the pool deck into the water, making it more accessible for children and anyone with a disability.

Aldridge-Low, 51, said that will make it easier for the lifeguards to teach younger children. For decades, kids have relied on NOTL’s pools to learn to swim.

Families like Rebecca Saylor’s have swam at the pool for years. Her grandmother, Vi Mills, supervised the Niagara Pool for over 30 years and taught many generations of kids how to swim. A few years back she retired at the age of 80 and Saylor is now the aquatics co-ordinator at the St. Davids pool.

Aldridge-Low, a competitive swimmer in her youth, said she would visit St. Davids on holiday from Scotland back then. She hopes to see a new pool that’s modernized and better for the lifeguards.

“They have to work within real constraints right now,” she said.

The pool is too deep in the shallow end, so young children end up sitting on the stairs because they can’t stand in the shallow end, she said.

“The shallow end is very deep compared to Niagara-on-the-Lake. NOTL is much more shallow,” said Aldridge-Low.

But she has always preferred the St. Davids pool to its Old Town counterpart because of the park-like setting. “It’s very peaceful.”

“One of the beauties of this model is that it is a hidden gem in a pathlike setting,” said Aldridge-Low. “I think if you lose that you’re losing something.”

The new pool will be built on the site of the current one and construction is to begin after the 2020 summer season.

That way, the pool can serve the public without missing a season, Kevin Turcotte, the town’s manager of parks and recreation, told the meeting.

Representatives from jh Architecture in Burlington led the presentation along with Turcotte.

The presentation featured drawings and maps of the new pool, including a digital tour showing the planned facility. The goal is to preserve green space, said Turcotte.

Most of the audience agreed on keeping the current location of the pool, near the back of the park and far away from the road.

Gus Koroneos, a resident of St. Davids, liked the design and sees it as something that can bring the community together. “It looks fantastic.”

Koroneos has two daughters who take swim lessons at the pool and said it’s sad to see the facility falling apart. At just over 50 years old, the pool is well past its prime.

“It’s really good to see that the community is investing in a brand-new pool,” said Koroneos. “It creates a sense of community and brings people together. Our kids know a lot of kids and have met a lot of kids through the pool and will continue to want to do so.”

One audience member at the consultation suggested the pool should serve everyone in town. For that reason, some features to entice youth to the pool include a rock-climbing wall, a water-basketball net and bike racks.

Koroneos agrees that the pool should serve youth, such as his own children as well as the older members of the community.

“Swimming is important for even the elderly of the area who want to have some cardiovascular exercise through aerobics and swim aerobics,” said Koroneos. “I think it’s a win-win for everybody.”

“My one concern was what was going to happen with the old pool. Were they just going to close it? So, I guess one of those concerns is gone, because it looks like there is going to be a new pool, which is fantastic.”

During the presentation, one woman questioned why the new pool would have universal or family change rooms instead of separate change areas for men and women. She was concerned that it could attract pedophiles.

Architect Jim Hettinger explained there will be one large, open change-room with individual locked stalls and no nooks where people could lurk. One of the benefits of the family-style change area is fathers will be able to take their daughters in to change and mothers can take their sons, the meeting was told.

As a lane swimmer, Aldridge-Low’s biggest concern is the capacity of the pool.

“We get a lot of triathletes come into the pool sometimes right before competitions and they basically take over the pool,” she said.

Some of the lane swimmers are more leisurely swimmers and get frightened by the splashing and the pool literally can have waves. “So therefore, they get out of the pool.”

The current pool does not have lanes so there’s no buffer between the swimmers.

“I would rather see more lanes and less extra à la carte items.”

Residents can visit the town's Join The Conversation page for more information and comments about the pool project.

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