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Save Dease Pool: An Open Letter to City Council

Save Dease Pool   ~  Lake Superior News
#LSN_Opinion  Save Dease Pool

THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO  -  March 26, 2019  (LSN) In view of the recent article in the Globe and Mail decrying racism and hate in our community, and the certainty that many more such articles are forthcoming, the reputation of the city is in tatters.  

Do not look for the broad solution to solve serious social problems. Building community through resilient neighbourhoods in the myriad of incremental decisions we make every day is the more constructive approach.

Consider for example, the upcoming windfall from the Government of Canada respecting additional infrastructure funding for municipalities - reportedly doubling it. This places the decision to close Dease pool in a different light. 

Many of the direct beneficiaries of the pool are from low-income families - many of First Nations background. The children of this neighbourhood are unlikely to be going to Disneyland, on a camping trip or a road trip to Minneapolis.  They have very few places to spend their summers except for Dease Pool. Community pools give children an opportunity to have a supervised activity throughout the summer months and have been demonstrated in US studies to reduce truancy among children and crime in their neighbourhoods. The community is accruing benefits from this facility that have not been identified or understood, but will come to be understood if the pool is lost when it will be too late.

Dease pool, year on year, has been a vehicle facilitating intercultural understanding. The local schools understand this and have been supportive of the movement to save the pool as are the children, the neighbourhood and the community at large. Additionally, Dease pool is a block from the Neebing River, the main reason it was built over 100 years ago.  

We know the health benefits that pools represent and for Thunder Bay, a “sick city” by Health Canada standards, this is no small thing. 

At Dease, we have a facility that can provide children with supervised activity during the summer vacation, a valuable life-saving skill by learning to swim, and the opportunity to develop intercultural understanding at the earliest life stages.

Isn’t this the sort of vehicle anti-racism efforts should be sustaining? Isn’t this the sort of facility an anti-racism committee would recommend? Racism will not be defeated by a task-force by task-force, committee by committee approach. It will be defeated child-by-child, citizen-by-citizen, and neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood.

You have served the interest of the corporation well, but too often with indifference to the reality that a city is a place where people of different ages and backgrounds come together to live in neighbourhoods they depend on to serve them, keep them safe, and even enrich their lives. You forgot that, and look now at how we pay.

Corporate and business scouts who come to Thunder Bay to evaluate the merit of opening a new factory or facility in our community employ sophisticated metrics. Together with comparative advantages and considerations we are familiar with, they increasingly focus on the quality of life the community can offer to their employees and their families. They want to place their employees in cities that have a demonstrated commitment to safe, vibrant, interesting, and walkable neighbourhoods. In this light, the city’s de-facto policy of denuding neighbourhoods must stop. Reversing the Dease pool decision would be a good place to start.

Dease pool has long been an essential, sustaining institution in this community. From crime deterrence to truancy reduction, from promoting cross-cultural understanding to teaching life saving skills - its contribution has been immense and its closure ill considered.

If we did not have Dease pool, we should consider building it.

Please do not shut down Dease pool.

Submitted by:
William Olesky

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by Lake Superior News / Lake Superior Media.