Dozens of people rallied around Susan Simmons on Sunday as she, and a few brave souls, plunged into the frigid waters off of Ogden Point.
Simmons is an ultra-marathon swimmer who has used the sport to overcome symptoms from multiple sclerosis (MS). She did the plunge as a call to action to Victoria council to prioritize building a new Crystal Pool facility. She invited councillors to join her in the 6C water so they could see where swimmers will need to go if no new pool surfaces, but none of them took up the offer.
“[Coun.] Sarah Potts texted me to say she had social commitments,” Simmons said, noting she had said yes previously. “It was interesting to me that the two councillors that originally said yes and knew the date all of a sudden had social commitments… Though, I think for them to show up it would be challenging because the community is angry. Really angry.”
For nine years council has deliberated a new pool, and in the past two years lost millions of dollars in federal-provincial funding for the project when they voted to pull the plug on mostly-developed plans. More than $2 million had been poured into those plans alone.
“The irresponsible decisions they’ve made astound me,” Simmons said.
Simmons said she’s at Crystal Pool at least 10 times per week, both swimming for herself and coaching people.
“I have a good sense of what’s going on at the pool,” she said. “For many people the pool is life-saving.”
If Simmons doesn’t swim for two weeks, for example, her MS symptoms return. Additionally, seniors and athletes with physical and mental limitations thrive in the water.
The pool, however, is aging and will not last very much longer, costing upwards of $100,000 per month in maintenance costs.
Simmons and her supporters are asking council to prioritize the development of a new pool, and will continue to advocate for it by continuing their actions, including letter writing and speaking at council meetings.
For more information on upcoming efforts visit savecrystalpool.ca.