On Oct. 27 I presented a private member’s resolution in the legislature on the topic of the Thompson pool. The purpose of this resolution is to call out the province’s underfunding of northern communities, specifically in Thompson.
Thompson has been without an aquatic centre for three years. There’s been no regularly scheduled programs that the aquatic centre offered. No birthday parties, no seniors programming, no swimming lessons, and no swim teams.
As a father who has grown up and raised children in Thompson, I know the significance of having access to recreational facilities such as a pool. Without it, the Thompson Northern Torpedoes Swim Club have not been able to run a club. Seniors’ exercise programming, such as aquacize, has not been available to for locals. We used to host birthday parties at the pool, but that is no longer an option for families.
The lack of an aquatic centre for Thompson is not only a loss for the city of Thompson itself, but also for more than 50,000 people who live and work across nearby and surrounding communities in Northern Manitoba. Now community members are forced to travel out of Thompson just to access a public pool.
Fortunately, the construction of a new pool has been promised, with plans to have joint funding of the project from federal, provincial, and local sources. On Oct. 27, 2021, Swim North and the City of Thompson hosted a meeting of community leaders to present the official floor plan of a new pool facility in Thompson. In this initial plan, the federal government committed up to $6 million for the pool, the province has pledged up to $5 million, and the City of Thompson was left holding the bag on the remaining roughly $4 million. This it truly an unfortunate lapse in the government’s judgment, as municipalities are already facing cuts and budget constraints. Costs continue to grow from the original $15 million cost of the new facility due to inflation and rising costs of materials. With this price tag growing, how is the City of Thompson supposed to afford this? The city is now facing the daunting task of finding nearly double the funding as the cost of the facility has grown to nearly $20 million.
Unfortunately, the constant delay in planning and construction of the new aquatic centre is par for the course of the government’s lack of support for northern communities such as Thompson. Promise of support, promise of funding, disappointment when none arrives.
The persisting issue which arises in the north is that the government does not offer enough support to these northern communities to run and maintain programs which all Manitobans deserve access to. This is an issue across the board, whether it is recreation like with the pool, healthcare, infrastructure, or many other areas.
I will continue to fight for proper funding and support for northern families, and I will not be satisfied until I see adequate provincial investment in our northern communities. Please call my office at 204-677-4789, reach us by email at Eric.Redhead@yourmanitoba.ca, or come see us at 402-79 Selkirk Avenue in Thompson if you have any concerns. I look forward to hearing from you and fighting for you.