As the long, hot, dry and smokey summer of 2017 in the Vancouver region draws to an unofficial but merciful end, I am grateful for a particular public amenity that in my adult life I could pretty much take or leave: the public swimming pool.
I also owe a debt of gratitude to my eight-year-old who has dragged me – sometimes against my will – to Hillcrest pool day after day and rekindled in me not only the childhood joy of playing in the water but also an understanding of the value of an excellent community facility.
You see, I’m not much of a swimmer – I’m not good at it and I don’t really like getting wet, especially in public and specifically when it requires the removal of my shirt. But as summer wore on, I moved from barely tolerating the outing, to accepting it, to finally enjoying it and even looking forward to it. Part of that was that it provided relief from the heat. The bigger part was watching my son, who went from an improvised dog paddle to launching himself off the edge of the diving pool with a somersault/twist combination and emerging with a huge grin and a mouthful of water that statistically has a 100-per-cent chance of containing at least some urine.
The other realization that came to me over time was that the pool was a place for everyone, regardless of socioeconomic standing, age, race, religion, ability or body type. It is truly public, in a way that the word “public” isn’t code for “substandard.”
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