Hot weather brings high demand to Winnipeg outdoor pools

As temperatures heat up across southern Manitoba, people in Winnipeg are flocking to city-run swimming pools to try and cool down. But with the high demand, some facilities are struggling to keep up.

At St. Vital Outdoor Pool, dozens of people waited in line for nearly 45 minutes before they could get inside.

“Usually you get in right away, but because of the closures of the other pools, you’re waiting now a long time to get in,” said Judy Lavergne, who lives near the facility.

Happyland Pool on Marion Street is one of three pools set to be shutdown as part of the City of Winnipeg’s four-year budget. The pool was closed earlier this year after city council voted down a proposal to save it in May.

“Nobody is happy about this,” said Teresa Cwik, the president of the South St. Boniface Residents Association.

Cwik said she’s been advocating to keep Happyland Pool open, and with help from the community, she was able to raise more than $80,000 to have the pool stay afloat. But when the funds were offered to the city, they were denied.

“When we went there, they wanted $85,000,” Cwik said. “They asked for another $100,000 on top of it to open and close the pool.

“It does not cost $100,000 to open and close the pool,” she said.

In a press conference Tuesday, Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham said his council examined Happyland Pool’s closure, but made no plans or promises to reopen it.

“Rather than put more funds into an old facility…we’re investing in other pools,” Gillingham said. “And in St. Boniface, the focus is to turn now, look to the future to develop an aquatics plan for St. Boniface that is more robust.”

Gillingham added that community consultations on the new aquatic centre are set to start this summer.

“Until this new aquatic centre is built, maybe they could keep this pool open, because I’m sure it will last a long time,” Cwik said.

In a statement to CTV News, St. Boniface councillor Matt Allard described the 2024-2027 draft budget as “the biggest political battle of my career.”

“I have never dedicated as much time and energy to a single issue,” he wrote. “I look forward to building and improving St. Boniface pools in the years to come.”

In the meantime, the closures and long wait times have some swimmers considering other options.

“There’s Westdale, there’s Kildonan, there’s Transcona, but they’re so much further and it’s just so much more of a pain,” said St. Boniface resident Suzanne Chartrand.

According to the city’s online pool reservation hub, St. Vital Outdoor Pool is booked for the rest of the week. Those who want to try and squeeze into a spot should expect to wait.

Heat wave headed for southern Manitoba

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), southern and central Manitoba are in for some high temperatures over the next few days.

“We are calling for a temperature forecast of 33 C on Friday,” said ECCC emergency preparedness meteorologist Natalie Hasell. “Our humidex values are going to make this feel much warmer.

“So it’ll be really important for people to pay attention to how they’re feeling, how people around them are doing,” she said.

People can also expect to see smoky and hazy skies from wildfire smoke out west.

“This could be a really complicated and possibly difficult time for a surprisingly large amount of the population,” Hasell said.

ECCC advises Manitobans to check the forecast before heading out and drink lots of water to stay hydrated.

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