SOUTHWEST MIDDLESEX - The pool in Glencoe opened just in time for a sweltering day June 15. Aquafit was already running that first day, one of a full slate of recreation options now open to residents in Glencoe, Appin and Wardsville.
And these are aimed at all ages, from easy walking groups for seniors, to mom and tot programs.Seniors can get a 55-plus active pass for terrestial activities, and kids can swim with their school classes.
Even those who do not have the equipment to take part can now take advantage of a new give-away program that gets racquets, sticks and other gear in the hands of kids.
Recreation relatively recently became such a focus for the municipality of Southwest Middlesex after a recreation master plan looking at what services residents wanted was passed six months ago.
“They didn’t want to drive to Strathroy or Chatham or London, they wanted to do things locally. Especially with gas prices it’s become even more important,” said recreation coordinator Ashely Parker.
About 330 were already signed up online for pool programs alone last week. Considering all the other activities from yoga to tennis lessons with a pro, plus the 370 soccer players through the soccer society, the area of 5,000 or so is craving an active lifestyle.
It is why director of operations Greg Storms said the recreation plan was first on his to-do list when he came on board a couple years ago. It was the first master plan of its kind in Southwest Middlesex.
“Recreation shouldn’t be political; it should be what the people want, and what the people are willing to support,” said Storms.
New staff like Parker and others have played a big role in being able to offer so much, said Storms. In a global shortage of lifeguards that require more training than ever, places like Lucan and London have cut back on pool and program availability due to staff shortages. Southwest Middlesex made sure training was available through the pandemic. There are now 10 hired for the Glencoe pool, double the pre-Covid staff.
And more is coming. Pickleball lines are being drawn on the tennis courts, with pros asked to come teach. Roller skating may come to the arena next summer, as will shuffleboard. The arena is expected to reopen in December after renovations.
Chris Gareau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Middlesex Banner