Citizens save Hantsport's pool

Ashley Thompson
Published on July 4, 2014

Eleanor Gallant, head lifeguard at Hantsport’s public pool, is excited to have the opportunity to work at the very place she learned to swim.

©Ashley Thompson

Hantsport’s public pool is a prime example of what can happen when a determined few inspire a great many.

Chances of diving into the pool this summer looked slim in the spring when Hantsport’s town council voted 2-4 against funding the operations of the aging facility this season.

That decision didn’t sit well with many citizens who felt the community facility nestled amid the Hantsport Memorial Community Centre (HMCC) grounds would be greatly missed, especially by local children looking for a place to cool off this summer.

A citizen-led Save Our Pool committee launched a fundraising campaign in hopes of raising enough money to open the pool without operational funding from the Town of Hantsport.

It was an ambitious goal; one they would eventually see through to fruition.

The pool opened to the public July 1, showing several visitors taking in the annual Canada Day celebration why citizens of Hantsport and the surrounding communities felt the facility was worth fighting for.

“There’s been some major donations from citizens,” said Harold Bulger, the town’s deputy mayor.

Bulger, who opposed the closure of the pool along with Coun. Margot Bureaux, was among the many volunteers involved with the grassroots effort to keep the pool open.

“I’m smiling from ear to ear,” he said.

Bulger attributes the success of the citizen movement to HMCC volunteers, individual citizens, local businesses and neighbouring municipalities working together to achieve a common goal.

The Town of Windsor offered to provide pool operator services to ensure the facility is run properly, the Town of Hantsport donated water and agreed to help with payroll, and the municipalities of Kings and West Hants were asked to provide recreational grants.

“Without that pool operator that the Town of Windsor is supplying us we wouldn’t be operating,” Bulger noted.

Two full-time lifeguards, and one part-time lifeguard, have been hired.

Eleanor Gallant, a lifelong Hantsport resident, is happy to be among them as the head lifeguard.

“The pool is kind of the social hub of Hantsport in the summertime,” she said.

“It would have been a shame to lose it.”

The facility has received much-needed maintenance that will make it more user friendly, food is allowed on the premises and there are new patio sets on the pool deck for parents or guardians to enjoy while their children swim, Gallant said.

“We’re really trying to show people that we’re here and that we really want people to come.”

All-ages public swims are from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through to Friday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekends. Youth swims for ages 13-21 will be held Wednesdays from 8:30 to 10 p.m.