It was a long, winding road with its fair share of peaks and valleys to arrive at the opening of Outlook’s Van Raay & Community Swimming Pool last summer.
Long before kids and families were enjoying the slides and the inviting waters of the impressive facility, it all started with merely an idea back in November 2013 after the original pool in the Outlook & District Regional Park had finally seen its last days. That idea begged the question, Could Outlook and area get behind the vision of a brand-new pool?
Over the next five and a half years, a flurry of community-organized events would help add to the coffers, people would come and go on the organized fundraising committee, and landmark occurrences would infuse new hope into the dream shared by all, such as pool namesake Cor Van Raay’s astounding $500,000 donation in the summer of 2016.
Finally, the pool would open its doors to the public on Canada Day last year. Legend says if you were listening very closely on that day, you could hear a collective sigh of relief from those behind the scenes.
A year later, on a late Friday afternoon during the week that the pool opened for its second season, the fundraising committee – Tony and Betty Peter, Julie de Moissac, Teresa Weldon, and Ashley Austin – reunited to reflect on the hard work they poured into the project, which in turn was consistently supported by the people of the local community and those from far away. The five of them enjoyed cupcakes generously donated by the Outlook Bakery, and in discussing the fact that the pool is now a reality, the group can’t help but smile together.
“We were just ecstatic,” said Julie, asked what the group’s first feelings were when the pool opened. “There was just a high we all had! It just looks so good; the landscaping is unbelievable and it’s a place for people to come and play!”
“It’s exciting,” said Tony. “It’s a thrill to see the kids play. Even today, it’s just as thrilling to see them all playing and enjoying it!”
To see the vision of a brand-new aquatic facility come to life made the years of spearheading numerous fundraising initiatives worth it.
“The process was great, and the progress was exciting,” said Julie. “Admittedly, not ALL the time, but most of the time, it was. The generosity of people that we never expected was astonishing.”
Like any major project that has its own twists and turns, there were times when the committee members felt a new pool just wasn’t going to happen, but then the proverbial dark tunnel would shine a light.
“Yes, definitely,” said Julie, on having thoughts of the pool maybe not opening at all. “Quite a few times, that would happen.”
“I figured until there was a shovel in the ground, it might not have happened,” said Ashley.
“For me, once we got the big donation from Cor Van Raay, that was just what we really needed at that time,” said Betty.
“That definitely was the turning point because people who may have been reluctant in giving, as soon as they saw that, they thought, ‘Well, we’ve got to move ahead!’,” said Tony.
“We couldn’t NOT take advantage of a donation of that size,” said Julie.
So now, with the pool enjoying its second season today and the work of leading the charge to bring it to life behind them, what else do members of the committee think Outlook needs as far as other recreation options?
“Outlook needs a long-distance hiking trail along the riverbank,” said Julie. “That’s one thing Outlook could really use, like a multi-day hiking trail because that brings a lot of people. The park could use mountain bike trails as that would bring a lot of people. Cross-country ski trails in the winter by the gun range or anywhere else with snow would be amazing! Demonstrations of alternative sports would be interesting – kite skiing, for example. A zipline across the valley would be freaking amazin! Lacrosse in the rink in the summer because it just sits empty. Short track speed skating in the winter because not everyone wants to play hockey. Why not do these interesting things?”
“A very simple thing that I think we need is a walking & bike trail joining the regional park and the pool, and the two should work together on that,” said Tony. “These are two amazing facilities in town, and they should be coordinated.”
With the support of an entire community and beyond along the way, the journey by these five people to turn an idea from dream to reality just goes to show that perhaps the best success stories happen right here in rural Saskatchewan.