Lisa Rangno (left) and Elizabeth Huson of the South Cariboo Aquaplex Initiative make their presentation to the South Cariboo Joint Committee on Jan. 14. Brendan Kyle Jure photo.

South Cariboo Aquaplex Initiative meets with South Cariboo Joint Committee

The initiative hopes to bring an indoor aquatic facility to 100 Mile House

A delegation from the South Cariboo Aquaplex Initiative (SCAI) met with the South Cariboo Joint Committee (SCJC) on Jan. 14 to present their plan and goals to get a pool in the community.

“Our mission as the South Cariboo Aquaplex Initiative is to promote the development of an affordable aquatic facility that is accessible to the community and visitors of all ages and abilities,” said Elizabeth Huson, one of the three main organizers of the initiative. “We would like to consider an indoor aquatic facility as a recreation option in the South Cariboo and allow an aquatic facility to go to referendum.”

She listed some goals that include:

– Engaging the community, stakeholders and gather support for the facility

– Receiving support from local governments

– Determining the community’s current and future need for an aquatic facility

– Connecting with architects and developing an affordable facility

– Forming a society (which they have already done)

– Building community relationships and successful partnerships

– Educating the public and community on the benefit of an aquatic centre

– Provide effective and transparent communications with community members to allow informed decisions

– And raising funds to offset costs of the building as well as operation costs

Some of the material they covered in the presentation was the history of community groups trying to get a pool in 100 Mile House, retaining and returning physicians, crime reduction, health benefits and others.

The group brought in Dr. Larissa Juren to talk about how bringing in a pool could help the community recruit and keep physicians and other medical professionals.

According to Juren, there are 15 physicians and one nurse practitioner in the community, and 100 Mile House is resourced to have 18 positions. There are currently three posted vacancies.

Of the doctors, three of them are over 65 and four of them are Return of Service doctors, which means they trained abroad in a program that is not recognized by the Canadian system and they are in the process of attaining a complete licence. One of their requirements of completion is serving three years in a rural community.

Juren went to explain how important Return of Service doctors are to rural communities, she noted that the trend being seen is that they, unfortunately, do not stay in the communities they do their three years service in.

Within three months three doctors will leave their practices and in three to four years, the four Return of Service doctors might leave, said Juren.

“In the last year and a half, I’ve worked closely with 13 physicians to try and get them to Village Medical Clinic – this isn’t just a passing phone call, they submitted resumes, we’ve had calls, we’ve had site visits… Out of that 13, five of them said the lack of a pool was a potential dealbreaker for them and that they were looking at other communities that had pools,” she said. “There are other communities in Canada that have had physician recruitment issues and have seen a huge turnaround when they got a pool.”

Juren also read letters from other doctors in the community who voiced their support of an aquatic facility.

Lisa Rangno, one of the other organizers, went in-depth about the benefits of an aquatic facility, saying that it would serve a far broader cross-section of residents from young children to seniors, more so than any other type of facility.

Crime reduction was a point she raised.

“It has a huge impact on youth [and] the reduction of youth crime, particularly when we are dealing with something like latchkey kids in small towns where they have two parents working and kids are now left to go home by themselves at the crucial age and crucial timeframe where they could be affected by peer pressure of things like that to get into criminal activity.”

Another point raised was when parents take their children to swimming lessons in Williams Lake or Kamloops, they are taking business away from 100 Mile House.

Rangno said having a facility would draw in new blood into the community and help retain them and that it would also help bring in more business into the town when parents from town or outlying communities drop off their kids and stick around.

“We have parents who are willing to pack their families in a car, hit the dangerous highway in mid-winter and head up and travel an hour each way (and take business out of here by the way) and take kids to swimming lessons there. Every time you have families leaving this area, they have taken their money away,” she said.

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