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Staying afloat: Community group raises thousands in bid to keep public pool open

Happyland Outdoor Pool is pictured on Aug. 13, 2017. Happyland Outdoor Pool is pictured on Aug. 13, 2017.
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A community group has managed to raise over $70,000 in a bid to keep a public pool - destined for closure by the City of Winnipeg - afloat.

The city’s four-year budget earmarked closing the aging Happyland Pool in St. Boniface due to costly required repairs.

Since that decision, Friends of Happyland Pool, have been raising awareness - and capital - in order to save the outdoor pool.

In a submission made at a Riel community committee meeting on Tuesday, Teresa Cwik, from Friends of Happyland Pool, announced the results of the campaign.

“The community has been able to raise most of the funds needed,” said Cwik.

The cost of operating the pool is estimated to be around $80,000 to $85,000, a goal the organization believes it can hit.

“Our group has managed to raise $70,848.50 in less than a month to give to the city, and we are confident we’ll be able to raise the amount needed and more,” said Cwik.

She said the group has been in contact with organizations that may be willing to operate the pool in the future, but it can only work so fast in terms of getting things ready for this season.

“We would need the city to operate the pool this year as we are running out of time to put together a plan for this year,” said Cwik.

According to the group, keeping the pool open this year is also a win-win for everyone.

“By reviewing and accepting this proposal the city would have nothing to lose, and much to gain, by providing the community with a safe place to enjoy the summer. This would be both a benefit to the city and the community,” said Cwik.

Friends of Happyland said it’s also been told by St. Bonifice MLA Robert Loiselle, that it will likely qualify for up to $50,000 in funding through a new provincial grant which focuses on the revitalization of high-needs neighborhoods throughout Manitoba.

Cwik told the committee the program for the Winnipeg area is expected to be announced on Monday.

Meantime, councillors Matt Allard and Brian Mayes passed a motion to have the community services committee consider continue operating the pool this summer in light of the fundraising efforts, and the possible provincial grant.

“I’ve rarely seen this much citizen involvement on an issue here over 12 years,” said Mayes.

The community services committee is expected to meet again next week.

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