Efforts to save Winagami wading pool continue

Owen Rohloff, 5, of Grande Prairie, enjoys cooling off in the Winagami pool at Parks Day July 21, 2007. The pool is closed permanently.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

The popular wading pool at Winagami Lake Provincial Park could be resuscitated.

After it was closed by Alberta Environment and Parks in spring 2019, local municipalities lobbied the government to revive the pool.

Village of Donnelly Mayor Myrna Lanctot and council pleaded the issue with Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon at a meeting at the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association convention Sept. 25-27.

“We felt that the minister understood our frustrations with the loss of the wading pool, whether temporary or not,” Lanctot says

She initiated a call for support to other neighbouring municipalities in a letter dated June 13.

Nixon says the pool was built around 30 years ago after a beach area was lost.

“Park employees will look into what it would cost to have the wading pool running for the 2020 summer as a temporary fix,” Lanctot says.

Grande Prairie – Smoky MLA Todd Loewen also supports for the request by the municipalities.

Lanctot says Loewen is a key link between local municipalities, the minister and ministry.

Options to raise funds and sponsors and municipal commitments will be considered for ongoing future development of the park.

County and municipal councils will also discuss the issue with the minister at the Rural Municipalities of Alberta convention Nov. 12-15, Big Lakes County Reeve Richard Simard says.

“We’ll just keep pushing the government to make sure we get a wading pool at Winagami Park,” Simard says.

Simard, Lanctot, Town of McLennan Mayor Michele Fournier and other members of McLennan council met with Parks Northwest regional director Calvin McLeod at the wading pool Sept. 4.

“At that meeting, Mr. McLeod felt that the pool would be closed for at least two years,” Lanctot says.

Simard says the delegates promoted the value of the pool.

“We really stressed the importance of the pool and how much it is used by not only tourists, but people from neighbouring communities,” Simard says.

Councils received a letter from Nixon dated Sept. 9.

“Environment and Parks plans to hire a consultant to determine the costs related to refurbish or replace the wading pool,” Nixon says.

Any plans for a new pool or other facility would be subject to the ministry’s 2020 capital budget and planning,” he adds.

Nixon responded to letters of concern from several municipalities in June.

“I recognize your concerns about closing the wading pool,” Nixon says.

“Our main intent is to protect (users) as the wading pool is in need of repair due to both its age and more recently, vandalism.”

A letter from Big Lakes County was also sent to Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn.

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