Hamilton opens new $3.2m Parkdale outdoor pool, with few complaints

About 100 eager and horny residents were lined up ready to jump into Hamilton’s brand new outdoor pool which officially opened on July 20 at the Pat Quinn Parkdale Arena.

But Emily Daigle could only watch and take pictures of the refreshing blue water. The Hamilton resident, who uses a wheelchair, had to wait for a member of staff to provide her with a pool chair before she could enter the pool.

“There’s a ramp, but that chair doesn’t go there,” she said, pointing to the water. “I was told to hold out for an hour. But what about equality?

Daigle called the new Parkside outdoor pool a “game changer” for the community. She grew up in the area without being able to swim in any outdoor pool.

Daigle, a disability advocate for more than 30 years, said the city tried to make the pool accessible but should have made it “accessible to everyone.” There is the pool ramp, as well as accessible showers and other upgrades for the disabled. But having to wait while someone grabs a pool chair for someone in a wheelchair isn’t helpful, she said.

“It’s an oversight,” Daigle said.

Within half an hour someone found her a pool chair and brought her to the pool.

Other residents with children were already in the pool, splashing around.

“The water is hot,” said Rachelle Grouchy, who lives in the area. “Kids love it. We will definitely be back.”

It took almost 20 years for Ward 4 Coun. Sam Merulla to save the old Parkside Outdoor Pool in 2001 and to fight on behalf of residents to have a new, updated facility built in the neighborhood.

During his first budget deliberation after his election in 2000 in the newly amalgamated city, he quickly discovered that staff had recommended the Parkside Pool be closed. As one of the newest people on the merged council, Merulla had to find a way to not only save the pool, but also get a new one built.

“By working together with the community, you can accomplish anything,” he said during the short ceremony. “This pool wouldn’t be opening today if there had been a weak person elected in 2000. They would have caved.”

Mayor Fred Eisenberger, who lived in the Parkdale neighborhood growing up, said he had “great memories” of swimming in the pool.

“We jumped the fence several times (to swim),” he said. “It’s a fantastic facility. It’s great for the neighborhood. »

Leanne Turner, project manager, said the $3.2 million installation was largely complete in June and took about a year to complete after the old pool closed for renovations in November. 2020. She said the COVID-19 pandemic had delayed construction of the pool.

It has a beach style entrance, with accessibility features including ramp, water feature with water spray, storage room, mechanical room for pool equipment and filters, a chlorine room, gender-specific and universal toilets and an accessible shower, an open changing room with four additional closed cabins, a house for staff and lifeguards with dedicated toilets and reception area.

Richard F. Gandhi