By Terry Hughes
At one time, Welland boasted five municipal swimming pools for local use. Times have changed with a multiplicity of pools at private homes and closing two city facilities due to infrastructure issues requiring major repairs. Cross Street pool was slated for historic designation but the city refuses to support the idea even though Mayor Roland Hardy’s council did so in 1990.
When plans were afoot to develop the canal lands in 1983-4 at least a dozen sites were identified as suitable for swimming. One major site was a beach that was to be located in the area between the swing bridge and the present boat launch. It was not seriously considered by Mayor Cindy Forster and was outside budget consideration later, by the Welland Recreational Canal Corporation (WRCC).
Had this site been developed you would have had a three hundred foot frontage along the shoreline with a sloping, sandy beach for bathers. It would have required buoy lines anchored in the canal with rafts located in strategic locations. After placing a load of rocks for bedding, the soil covering the proposed beach would be bulldozed over top of the bedrock and that would have been covered with sand.
Not since the demise of the WRCC has council supported a major development on the canal lands but this past December, they approved funding a floating swimming pool at a cost of $1.4 million.
Local media reported that a great deal of time was expended on this issue but details of this project require better explanation. According to published reports, the structure, measuring 10 m by 14 m and 1.4 m deep – would fit into most backyards. It would be smaller than the indoor pool at the YMCA! No financial details were provided as to where the pool would be stored, nor regarding the prevention of vandalism during the down times after operating hours. This pool would probably be overwhelmed by swimmers; as proposed, it raises questions about its feasibility.
Ward 6 Coun. Bonnie Fokkens has raised the issue of public input, suggesting that it be sought by the city. My suggestion – phone your local councillor and complain about this development.
Next Column: How Merritt Island’s Nature Trails Developed.
(Terry Hughes is a Wellander who is passionate about heritage, history and model railroading. His opinion column, Heritage Lives, appears on the blog once or twice monthly.)