"We all know it will never, ever come out of storage.”
Those were the words of former St. Marys Town Councillor Stephen McCotter just over a year ago, when the Town’s Recreation department brought forward a recommendation to place the swimming quarry’s iconic High Dive board and platform into storage “until a permanent solution (to its removal from use due to Lifesaving Society of Canada recommendations) can be found.”
Where is Stephen McCotter now. And, perhaps more importantly (partly because we know exactly where Mr. McCotter is; he’s campaigning to become our Liberal MP), where is the St. Marys Quarry’s low diving board?
Presently, thanks to McCotter’s successful insistence that the apparatus must not be removed because it would signal an acceptance by the Town that it can’t find a way around the Lifesaving Society’s guidelines, the High Dive continues to loom over the Quarry’s swimming area, a chain strung across its ladder to prevent use. Meanwhile, in what is certainly a bizarre scene, the low dive has been completely removed. It wasn’t just the springy diving board that was removed; no, the entire structure is gone.
Is it in storage? Because last time Town staff thought it was a good idea to place a diving apparatus into storage, Town Council — or, at least, a majority of its members — had a different idea.
The almost laughable scene is proof there’s an elephant within the fenced-off area of the swimming Quarry; an elephant that no one — especially members of Town Council who campaigned last year on a promise to re-open the High Dive — wants to talk about.
The High Dive will never re-open. Neither will the low diving board. Or the jumping cliff.
The Journal Argus has spoken with representatives of the Lifesaving Society of Canada. It has spoken with Recreation department staff. Everyone passes the buck. The Lifesaving Society claims they’re only providing guidelines, and that it’s up to the Town to make decisions about actual rules. But the two tragic flaws are firstly that the Quarry is so unique that there are no suitable guidelines to govern its use; and secondly that we live in an increasingly litigious society, in which the fear of financial ruin due to lawsuits governs all.
So, now that the elephant has been unveiled, where do we swim to next?
Cadzow Pool is, in all likelihood, in its final years of operation. Another untimely shut-down during the recent Canada Day celebrations wasn’t a surprise. As much as people love remembering swimming lessons in the almost century-old facility, it seems likely our toddler-friendly outdoor pool will soon be gone.
But wait? Must we lose our ability to have our youngsters learn to swim outdoors? Why not divert some of the promised goodwill and resources from St. Marys Cement — which committed to some specialized excavation if it could be shown to be a High Dive saviour — and use it instead to create a sort of “pool-within-a-pool” at the Quarry? Elevate it from the main reservoir, or separate it by constructed concrete barriers, keep the kiddies away from the less toddler-friendly deeper sections, and create a truly family park on Water Street South.
Recreation staff should be commended for trying to reverse what certainly appears to be a declining year-over-year trend for Quarry attendance. Here’s hoping the stand up paddleboard lessons are a success, and more innovative ideas emerge. But with Cadzow Park already being examined for major changes, perhaps the Quarry should also be thrown into the mix.