Recreation matters. It keeps us healthy – physically, mentally, and socially. As I go door-to-door, people want to talk about recreation. They give compliments about the parks geared to young children but wonder about play opportunities for the 8–12-year-old kids.  They love the walking trails but want to know more about senior opportunities. Most importantly, they want reasonable access to a pool.

In 2020. the cost-sharing agreement between Mississippi Mills, Carleton Place and Beckwith was cancelled without public consultation. This agreement was negotiated pre-amalgamation, knowing that good neighbours need guidelines on shared services that no one municipality can afford on its own. Some on Mississippi Mills Council wanted to cancel the library portion of the agreement, and so threw the whole agreement out without thought to residents, to recreation, or the long-term impact on physical, mental, and social health.

In 2021, Councillors Dalgity and Guerard tried to negotiate a new agreement for recreation without the library but were not able to reach a resolution. Beckwith successfully negotiated an agreement. This means that Mississippi Mills residents now pay a significantly higher out-of-town rate for pool usage.

While this might be a theoretical difference of opinion at Council level, the effect on Almonte residents is substantial. Pool fees have almost doubled in price now that we need to pay a non-contributing fee.  

This means that simple morning aquafit for a senior trying to maintain mobility, a teenager trying to become qualified as a lifeguard and gain employment, a 5-year-old who lives in Almonte close to the river and can’t swim, or a 12-year-old trying to fit in on a swim team are all in jeopardy. The long-term implications are seen in population health statistics for frail seniors, the preventable drowning rates for non-swimming children and youth, and economic development statistics for youth employment. 

What is the cost to be “right” in negotiations? We need to send skilled negotiators to the table to resolve this issue – people who are not so short-sighted and determined to be “right” as they are determined to have a great outcome. Negotiations are not about the people at the table, but the results they return, and our community deserves good results.

Let’s build the community we want to live in, and that includes affordable access to a pool and aquatic programs.

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