Let’s push for more outdoor pools

Entrance Pool, one of nine outdoor city pools, is located in Bell’s Corners.   Photos: Liz McKeen

By Christie Diekmeyer

I’m a little obsessed with the idea of outdoor pools. There is nothing quite like the joy, the spontaneous fun, the instantly recognizable cacophony of whistles, laughter, conversation and pleasant childhood screams that emanate from an outdoor pool.

The advantages are great: swimming is one of the best exercises. By learning to swim you can literally save yourself and others from dying. This exercise is a sneaky one in that, if you’re fooling around in a pool, you don’t even realize that you’re burning calories.

Ottawa does not have enough outdoor pools (there are only nine city pools) and the ones that we do have are in poor repair (General Burns), are slated for destruction (the RA centre pool) or are few and far between (one in Blackburn Hamlet, one in Corkstown). The poor substitute for outdoor pools that Ottawa has given us, called wading pools, are tremendous fun, but only appropriate for the smallest among us, thus tremendously non inclusive. Don’t get me started on splash pads.

An outdoor pool, like an ice rink, joins us to our neighbourhood, creates a sense of community, takes us out of our cocoons and adds to the desirability of a city.

What will it take to make an outdoor pool part of the city plan? How exciting would it be for us to plan for every neighbourhood to have an outdoor pool for people to enjoy!

Why not enjoy the indoor pools, you may ask? Our summers are so short, the chance to get outside is so acute and the highly visible nature of the outdoor pool makes it such a desirable option. I swim in a Masters swim club and I have talked to many of my pool mates who agree that when we go to the outdoor pool for the two months of summer, it is our favourite place to go. There is nothing quite like looking at the blue sky overhead as you do a backstroke up the lane.

When I think of getting a project like this started, I think of the great success that the Jim Durell outdoor rink at Canterbury has been. It is so well utilized, so beautifully done, so inclusive and attracts many of us from outside the neighbourhood. We are intensely jealous of this structure and in admiration that it was conceived and built in a relatively short time.

What will it take to have this obsession realized? I feel that we need a groundswell of enthusiasm. It’s time to rally and fundraise and push for this neighbourhood-changing possibility. The benefits would be enormous.

Christie Diekmeyer has lived in the Glebe for 22 years, is a family physician and comes from Montreal, where virtually every neighbourhood has an outdoor pool for everyone to enjoy.

Contact: ctjkbt@gmail.com

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