When spring break comes around, there is a destination Steinbach and area residents turn to year after year.
Steinbach City Councillor Jac Siemens says the city is “extremely fortunate” to have the Steinbach Aquatic Centre.
“It's been a busy place for many, many years on spring break. It's amazing how busy it is,” Siemens says.
While it is the pool we know today, it is not Steinbach’s first one.
"It's the first indoor pool, but it's, I think, the third pool overall,” he explains. “The first pool was built by the Steinbach Kinsmen Club back in the 1950s downtown where the spray park is beside the Jake Epp Library. That's where the first official pool is. It was a dugout style pool with asphalt bottom.”
Siemens says the first pool closed around 1975. Not long after, an outdoor pool opened in 1979 and still stands today.
The Steinbach Aquatic Centre’s indoor pool was announced in February 2000 and opened in September 2002.
He explains there were options for potential locations for the Steinbach Aquatic Centre, including placing it beside the Steinbach Regional Secondary School (SRSS), the Centennial Arena or the Clearspring Mall.
“Lots of discussions, lots of different groups and a lot of different ideas. City council finally decided it was time to invest, and they built an indoor pool beside the current outdoor pool where it is today. City council made that decision for a number of reasons,” he says.
Over the past two decades, the city has witnessed many use the facility. The City of Steinbach’s 2022 financial plan displays its success in the last year.
"There were 89,000 people who went swimming there in public swims last year. It's one of the busiest pools in Manitoba. Another 4,700 swim lessons. If you took all the participants in the swim lessons and counted each time they had to go for swimming lessons, there'd be 42,000 kids and adults. Another 42,000 people would have entered that room,” he says.
He explains many people from outside Steinbach, including Winnipeg and other towns around southern Manitoba, make the trip to the aquatic centre.
“It's a leisure centre. It's not just a pool, whereas a lot of the city pools in Winnipeg are lane pools. This is a leisure centre that has a lot of leisure components with the lazy river, the beach entry and the large hot tub and sauna. We got a lot of participants,” he says.
He and his wife have experienced the busyness, even during early mornings.
“It is busy at 6:30 in the morning. It is hard to find a lane where you can swim by yourself. You have to share your lane. It is a busy time, so we don't go at 6:30 in the morning, we go later in the morning,” he says.
Siemens adds that sights and sounds display the need for the pool.
“I can see through the glass just before 11:30 [AM], there's a lineup already of moms and tots and so on, waiting to come in for a public swimming at 11:30 [AM] on a normal day.”
With the growth they face, they are looking forward to minor upgrades.
"I know the swim club is getting busier and busier,” he says. “They're putting in new stands. There are small things going on. We just spent $2.2 million upgrading it all during COVID, so it is a wonderful facility.”
With files from Corny Rempel.