It’s ironic that city council is contemplating getting rid of Jackson pool during one of the hottest summers Sarnia has endured in recent years.
The East Street facility – which is badly in need of repairs -- has been closed this year while council ponders what to do with it. As a result, there have been frustratingly long lineups at Tecumseh pool. In fact, people have had to wait an hour or more in blistering heat to take a dip in Tecumseh. Some have reportedly waited that long only to be turned away.
It’s difficult to know how much it would cost to get Jackson pool back in business. Repair estimates that I’ve read in the media range from $581,000 to about one million bucks.
Staff has suggested a splash pad/multi-purpose gathering spot could be built in place of the pool, at a cost of at least $167,000. Other estimates say the bill could be as much as $375,000.
Complicating the whole issue is the fact that a group of local citizens has pledged to help replace the pool with a major fundraising drive. Needless to say, that could lower the cost of repairs considerably.
But what’s been forgotten in the whole debate is the human factor. We’re talking about a swimming pool for children – many of them very young – who live in the central city or south end. They don’t have the same access to Lake Huron as north end kids enjoy.
Some argue Tecumseh is only about two kilometres away from Jackson, but that’s not all that close for a child. And as I’ve already noted, Tecumseh is often overflowing with swimmers now.
There’s also the worry that council could end up being penny wise and pound foolish. If you take away healthy exercise for young people you can expect higher health costs down the road. Indeed, one health study I read shows 18 percent of children in Canada are overweight. Almost half of those are considered obese. Obesity rates in this country have tripled in a generation.
Then there’s the potential cost of higher juvenile delinquency. If you don’t give young people something constructive to do, you’ll surely see an increase in vandalism and other such problems.
Council is set to make a decision this fall. In the meantime, ratepayers should contact Mayor Bradley and his councillors and let them know they want Jackson pool saved. Our kids deserve the same opportunities today that we had when the pool opened in 1966.