Victim of its own popularity
The Carbonear Swimming Pool has been enjoying unprecedented popularity since it reopened earlier this summer after a prolonged closure for major upgrades. Registration for children’s swimming lessons this fall has been the largest in recent memory. In fact, town officials can’t recall when demand for swimming lessons actually exceeded the pool’s capacity to keep up with that demand.
Under the circumstances, one would think the Carbonear Town Council would have reason to rejoice.
But there is a catch, which would make any celebration premature.
“Carbonear children are being turned away,” and Coun. David Kennedy doesn’t think that’s “one bit fair to the town’s taxpayers who are subsidizing the facility with their tax dollars.
It’s encouraging to see such a facility gaining such popularity in the region. But if you were the parent of a Carbonear child who has been turned away from swimming lessons, while other children from outside of town were being registered, you would understand their frustration.
While town officials have often referred to the pool as a “regional facility,” Coun. Kennedy disputes that claim, suggesting, “there’s nothing regional about it.”
Coun. Kennedy makes a good point about the town’s children being deprived of the use of a facility that is being subsidized by their parents’ tax dollars.
However, it’s more difficult to deny the regional nature of a facility like the swimming pool.
The fact is the pool is no different than the shopping, mall, hospital, College of the North Atlantic, Sheila NaGeira Theatre, regional high school and other facilities that happen to be located in Carbonear.
They all serve and depend on customers and users from the broader region, without whom, arguably, they could not survive. The town should count all its “regional” blessings. Dep. Mayor Ches Ash also made a valid point when he suggested people from out of town who pay their fees for use of the pool also contribute financially to it.
Not only that, but any time anyone comes into town to use the pool — especially for swim meets and other events — they make a considerable contribution to the local economy. Just ask any fast food facility!
Aside from the children’s lessons, we have also noticed that many adults, who take advantage of the adult recreation, general lane and other swims offered, actually come from outside the town.
All that said, there’s no doubt having to turn away your own young citizens from swimming lessons presents a bit of a quandary for council and pool management.
There is no doubt a good argument can be made for implementing a registration system that gives the children of the town first crack at swimming lessons.
But surely some more equitable solution — such as extended hours of operation — can be found to solve this immediate, and hopefully, short-term problem.
It would be a pity to have to turn any child away from such a health facility, no matter where they hang their swimming cap.
– Bill Bowman