After decades of discussion and much anticipation, the Parry Sound area is finally getting a recreation centre and pool to call its own.
The current plan for the West Parry Sound Area Recreation and Culture Centre will include a four-lane pool, therapeutic/leisure pool, fitness and studio area, a sports court, change rooms, multipurpose rooms (for cultural and social gatherings) and an office/administration area. Participating communities are: McKellar Township, Township of The Archipelago, Carling Township, McDougall Township, the Town of Parry Sound, Seguin Township and the Municipality of Whitestone – as well as the First Nation communities of Wasauksing and Shawanaga.
The facility will fill a significant gap for residents who have been driving to Bracebridge or Huntsville for recreational offerings.
Dawson Loof recently graduated from Parry Sound High School where he was keen to get involved in sports of all kinds. “I really enjoyed basketball, soccer and badminton. It would’ve been nice to have a pool to cool down or use after practice, or a court to practice basketball on the weekends.”
Dawson says that the opportunities for teens to socialize and get active in a recreation centre would’ve been a significant benefit to him and his peers, offering more in-town options than hanging out at fast food restaurants or playing video games at home. “It would be great to just call up your friends and meet to play basketball and workout.”
Seguin resident Amanda VanKoughnett-Nelson (pictured right) is also excited to have a pool and recreation centre closer to home. The working mother has always been enthusiastic about keeping her family active and involved in the community. When she heard that the pool was finally was coming to the area, she was ecstatic about the benefits it will bring her family, parents and broader community. For the last several years Amanda has made the 45-50 minute drive to and from Bracebridge to use the pool at the Sportsplex. “As a former swimming instructor and lifeguard myself, I have always felt that having strong swimming skills is of great importance and that is why my son has been involved in swimming lessons since birth,” she explains.
In 2021, in Seguin Township alone, over 250 swim sessions were held at Foley Matheson Beach and the Rosseau Waterfront. “These programs are so popular,” says Dominque O’Brien, director of community services for the township. “However, the season is relatively short. Local parents regularly say that they wish there were year-round opportunities to complement the summers on the lake.”
Amanda also points out the challenges for many working parents in getting their children to these daytime, weekday lessons.
A trip to the pool and recreation centre is also very often about more than the one lesson or workout. While in Huntsville or Bracebridge, many Seguin families frequently tackle their grocery shopping and other errands, often adding a lunch or dinner at a local restaurant to the outing. This facility is expected to redirect some of that economic activity to West Parry Sound. “We know that these centres are about more than bricks and mortar,” says Donald Sanderson, who serves as chair of the West Parry Sound Recreation and Cultural Centre Board. “These spaces are hubs that enrich the local economy and benefit the overall wellbeing of the community in pretty incredible ways.”
NOTE: www.parrysound.com published a version of this story, provided by Seguin Township, on October 1, 2021.