Excitement is building for the West Parry Sound Area Recreation and Culture Centre

Posted on Tuesday September 28, 2021

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.”



Social connections are one such perk. Susanne Powell (pictured above) is a familiar face in the village of Rosseau where she’s been a part of the community for 50 years and upon retirement became a permanent resident. She says that the last 18 months have been especially challenging for seniors.  “In particular during the pandemic we have seen how isolated and lonely people have been. I think it has very adverse effects on overall health. A facility like this will help immensely as a meeting place and a place to stay active.”

“At this time in our area, if you don’t want to play hockey, you have very few options,” Amanda says.  When Amanda watched Canadian athletes at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, she couldn’t help but think of the limited options for sport and recreation in the region. “This complex is going to give my son options for sports that we never had.”Susanne credits her daily 6am swims with helping her to manage her demanding corporate life back in Toronto. She continues to stay active now, out for multiple daily walks with her two rescue dogs. She’s also an avid cross country skier.  While several local residents, like Susanne, are accustomed to strapping on skis, snowshoes or skates to stay active in the winter, the new facility will offer dozens of additional options to support safe, active lifestyles throughout the long winter. “The pool will also be especially beneficial for those who need exercise that it is gentle on their joints,” Susanne points out. The facility will also expand the breadth of activities available for children and youth.West Parry Sound Health Centre Chief of Medical Staff Dr. Wil Smith agrees. “The benefits of this facility go beyond the physical. This recreation centre will be a meeting place to build community, support positive mental health, and create connections to combat isolation. These types of facilities have been proven to enhance quality of life for residents. This is a major milestone for West Parry Sound residents!”

Dr. Smith shares this enthusiasm on behalf of the entire community. “This facility will significantly improve residents’ access to vital programs, instruction, and infrastructure that will help to establish lifelong healthy habits, which is a terrific long-term investment. As a physician, I see this facility as a means to empower citizens with tools to lower their odds of heart disease, diabetes and other illness linked to sedentary behaviour. The benefits will be far reaching and long term. ”

While the funding agreements and grants have been finalized, Seguin Township would like resident input on various topics related to the West Parry Sound Area Recreation and Culture Centre. Residents are encouraged to share their ideas at www.letsconnectseguin.ca.

 

 

 

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