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Editorial: Vale funding puts new pool closer to reality

$2 million only represents about 10 per cent of the expected cost of a new pool in Thompson, but it's $2 million less that the city won't need to beg, borrow or tax to cover.
vale city of thompson new pool cheque april 2022
Gary Annett, head of Vale Manitoba Operations, front left, presents Thompson Mayor Colleen Smook, front right, with a $2 million contribution toward a new public pool in City Hall, accompanied by representatives of Vale and Thompson council and city administration.

News that Vale is offering the City of Thompson $2 million multi-year funding to go toward the construction of a new Thompson aquatic centre to replace the Norplex Pool, which was permanently shut down more than three years ago, is welcome.

Not having a pool is terrible for Thompson. Had the decision to shut down the pool been made about a year earlier, Thompson might not have been able to host its successful 2018 Manitoba Winter Games, or at the very least swimming wouldn’t have been part of them. Given this part of the country’s long, cold winters, a pool is a great place to do something outside of the house that doesn’t require dressing in half-a-dozen layers, except while going to and from the car and the pool. With much of Northern Manitoba’s outdoor recreation centred in and around water, teaching children and adults how to swim not only provides them with the knowledge to take part in what is probably the best form of full body exercise, but also imparts a valuable life and potentially lifesaving skill that could prevent people from drowning. 

Over the years, people have learned to both kayak and scuba dive at the pool and the presence of a sauna was also very welcome. Water-based exercise is also the only type that some people with medical issues or simply sore joints can partake in.

Basically, a city the size of Thompson needs a public pool.

It isn’t surprising that Vale decided it would be in their interest to help pay for a new pool. Over the years, it has contributed to many local organizations and causes, including the construction of the reconfigured Thompson Regional Community Centre, which was completed about 10 years ago, and the Thompson homeless shelter, to name just two.

In order to make Thompson an attractive place for employees to plant roots, it needs to have the amenities and services that they can find in other communities, whether they are the mining communities or not. Without a pool, it could be harder to convince people to stick around long enough to buy a house or start a family. Swimming lessons are practically a rite of passage for many kids in Canada. If people can’t take advantage of that, they may move elsewhere or you may attract a workforce with more single or at least childless workers, who don’t face as many barriers when it comes to packing up and heading for greener pastures.

Vale’s money doesn’t mean that Thompson will have a new pool immediately, or even that it’s guaranteed to be built, depending on the amount they are contributing. But signing the agreement puts the city closer to replacing the Norplex than it was beforehand.

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