St. Marys Journal Argus
Wildwood Conservation Area near St. Marys played host to thousands of visitors this past weekend, in the run-up to the Canada Day holiday on Thursday. One of them was Perth-Wellington MP Gary Schellenberger, who dropped by Sunday, June 29 to help the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) — which owns and operates the park — celebrate recent upgrades to the campground's pool.
The pool was installed in the mid-1990s for campground users, as an option for swimming for times when water quality issues or other circumstances forced the closure to the Wildwood Lake beach for swimming. It's also located within the campground, whereas the beach is a short or medium-distance walk from the camping areas.
Over the years, minor upgrades have been undertaken. But according to Paul Switzer, superintendent at the park, "it was in dire need of investment." So the UTRCA applied to the federal government for infrastructure funding to improve the swimming pools at all three of its campgrounds: Wildwood, Fanshawe near London, and Pittock at Woodstock.
Work at Wildwood was actually completed at the end of the season last year, including new plumbing, structural upgrades, and repainting. But with the pool opening for 2014 last weekend, the UTRCA took the opportunity to invite Schellenberger, serve cake to Canada Day weekend visitors, and celebrate in style.
Special programming at the UTRCA pools is provided through an association with the YMCA lifeguarding program. Each of the UTRCA campgrounds also employs two staff people over the summer dedicated to recreational activities, including not just swimming but also hiking, crafts and the upcoming Wildwood Conservation Area Fishing Derby on Saturday, July 12.