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Warm weather creates high demand for outdoor pools in Winnipeg

Warm weather creates high demand for outdoor pools in Winnipeg

As temperatures rise in southern Manitoba, people in Winnipeg are flocking to city-run pools to cool off. But with demand high, some facilities are struggling to keep up.

At the St. Vital Outdoor Pool, dozens of people stood in line for almost 45 minutes before they were allowed in.

“Normally you can get in right away, but because the other pools are closed, you now have to wait a long time before you can get in,” said Judy Lavergne, who lives near the facility.

Happyland Pool on Marion Street is one of three pools set to close as part of the City of Winnipeg’s four-year budget. The pool was closed earlier this year after city council rejected a motion to save it in May.

“Nobody is happy about this,” said Teresa Cwik, president of the South St. Boniface Residents Association.

Cwik said she advocates for Happyland Pool to stay open, and with help from the community, she was able to raise more than $80,000 to keep the pool running. But when the funds were offered to the city, they were turned down.

“When we went there, they wanted $85,000,” Cwik said. “They asked for another $100,000 to open and close the pool.

“It doesn’t cost $100,000 to open and close the pool,” she said.

Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham said at a news conference Tuesday that his council has investigated the closure of Happyland Pool but has made no plans or commitments to reopen the pool.

“Rather than throwing more money at an old facility … we’re investing in other pools,” Gillingham said. “And at St. Boniface, the focus is on the now, looking to the future to develop an aquatic plan for St. Boniface that is more robust.”

Gillingham added that community consultations on the new pool will begin this summer.

“Until this new pool is built, maybe they can keep this pool open because I’m sure it’s going to last a long time,” Cwik said.

In a statement to CTV News, St. Boniface Councillor Matt Allard described the 2024-2027 budget proposal as “the biggest political fight of my career.”

“I have never put so much time and energy into one issue,” he wrote. “I look forward to building and improving the St. Boniface pools in the years to come.”

In the meantime, some swimmers are looking for other options due to the closures and long wait times.

“There’s Westdale, there’s Kildonan, there’s Transcona, but they’re so much further away and it’s just so much harder,” said Suzanne Chartrand, a St. Boniface resident.

According to the city’s online pool reservation hub, St. Vital Outdoor Pool is fully booked for the rest of the week. Those hoping to secure a spot should expect to wait.

Heat wave heading for southern Manitoba

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), high temperatures are expected in southern and central Manitoba over the coming days.

“We’re forecasting a high of 33 degrees Celsius on Friday,” said Natalie Hasell, emergency meteorologist at ECCC. “Our humidex readings will make it feel much warmer.

“So it’s really important that people pay attention to how they’re feeling and how the people around them are doing,” she said.

People in the west can also expect smoke and haze from the wildfires.

“This could be a very complicated and potentially difficult time for a surprisingly large portion of the population,” Hasell said.

ECCC advises Manitoba residents to check the weather forecast before heading out and to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.