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Over 100 people of all ages set off from the Giant Tiger plaza in Port Elgin with others joining along the way as they headed north to the Plex in hopes of raising awareness on the level of support within the community for a new aquatics facility in Saugeen Shores May 14.

Hub Staff

An orange tide of new pool infrastructure supporters swept through Port Elgin May 14, getting started at the Giant Tiger Plaza and concluding at the Plex, a preferred location for an aquatics centre and where organizers Saugeen Shores Recreation and Pool Now (SSRAPnow) and a few elected officials voiced the want for a new facility.

Supporters of all ages had donned orange for the occasion and Saugeen Shores Councillor John Rich said that a new aquatic facility is a propriety for residents in the long run, but brought up the big and hard question, “How are we going to find that money, while also questioning how the Town of Saugeen Shores will create partnerships that will keep operating costs down.

Four pool options were presented to Council in November 2017 with costs ranging from $21.4 to $14.4 million. In early 2018 a Memorandum of Understanding was approved to guide talks of a potential partnership between Town staff and the YMCA.

See: Town staff approved to seek potential partnerships for a new pool in Saugeen Shores

See: Saugeen Shores partnership talks with YMCA to go ahead

See: Saugeen Shores group forms in support of new aquatic facility

Rich said that Council is looking for two thirds funding. “One third from the Province, one third from the [Federal Government], but I think that we all have to know that that’s probably not going to happen. We’ve got to make sure that if we want something like this to happen it’s got to be a grass roots thing that comes from the community.” Rich said that the May 14 walk was to spread the awareness about the need for a new pool, but hoped that an agreement with the YMCA would come to fruition as they have access to other revenue streams, creating less of a burden on taxpayers.

When the parade of supporters, which included Rich as well as Councillors Mike Myatt and Neil Menage, reached the Plex a rally formed, including speakers Myatt as well as Deputy Mayor Luke Charbonneau.

Councillor Mike Myatt said when he was Director of Community Services for the Town, he retired in 2012, he stood behind a new pool and as a councillor today he continues to stand behind a new pool.

Myatt told the crowd that he has lobbied Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson and MP Ben Lobb in the past for the need for a new pool in Saugeen Shores and that he will continue to do so. Myatt went on to say that there hasn't been enough advocation from either level of government to bring back the Recreation Infrastructure Project. “The last time there was recreation infrastructure in the Province of Ontario was in 2008,” he said.

Myatt then challenged those in attendance to come to the May 24 All Candidates Meeting at the Plex and ask the candidates when they were going to bring back meaningful recreation infrastructure, “money that has not been around since 2008.”

Co-organizer of SSRAPnow, Kim Clarke, outlined the points on why the group says a new pool is needed in Saugeen Shores, citing the age and cost to maintain current infrastructure, accessibility concerns, the need for promoting water safety, promoting active and healthy lifestyles; and that the community has outgrown the current facility.

Deputy Mayor Charbonneau, who did not walk because his son was attending a swimming lesson at Saugeen Shores’ current facility, Centennial Pool, located at Saugeen District Secondary School, said that on a recent guided tour to the YMCA in Owen Sound he was told that the most important thing that supporters can do is have “lots and lots of dedicated people who are willing to come out and do things like this and raise money and make sure that the project stays at the top of forefront of everybody's mind across the community.” Charbonneau added, “Tonight, well, we have that.” He also encouraged members of SSRAPnow to lobby elected officials and those running.

“We’re going to need support from our Provincial and Federal members, we’ve got an election going on right now so we need that support,” he said, later adding that he is absolutely convinced that a new aquatics facility will happen in Saugeen Shores.

mike myatt

A new aquatics facility was at the forefront of many who took to the streets of Port Elgin, May 14. The group ended their walk with a rally outside a preferred pool location, the Plex in Port Elgin. Pictured, supporter of new pool infrastructure and Saugeen Shores Councillor Mike Myatt spoke in front of the municipal office to the large crowd.

ssrapnow organizers

Organizers of the walk were delighted to see the creative ways that people showed their support, like Katherine who was pulled in a buggy. From left, SSRAPnow committee members Kim Clarke, Karen Gill, and Tara Somerville, May 14.

luke charbonneau

Deputy Mayor Luke Charbonneau at the SSRAPnow rally in support of a new aquatics facility, May 14.

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All ages of new pool supporters attended the event including breakers swim team member Kenzie (left), and swimmers Chloe and Samantha, May 14.

children

Children from Saugeen Shores and surrounding area gathered in support of a new pool. From left, Hannah (12), Eithan (12) with canine friend Reisa; Peyton (6), Colby (4), Cameron (14), and Ava (9).

downtown

SSRAPnow supporters drew lots of attention from pedestrians and motorists as they headed through downtown Port Elgin, May 14.

signs balloons

Orange was the dominant colour as Port Elgin supporters (left to right) Ella (12), Angela (13), Raina (11), and Carson (12) were making sure they were noticed.

home hardware

Armed with signs, balloons and noise makers the supporters continued their journey north down Goderich Street to The Plex.

judy darlene

Port Elgin locals, Judy Kilburn (left) and Darlene McMurdie stopped for a quick photo as they neared their destination.

mannequin

Gloria Villamil (left) and Kristine Bull brought their dogs Pito and Oakley to participate in the walk, while 5 year old Katherine and Grandma Marg had borrowed a mannequin from the Saugeen Shores Lifesaving Club.