I was standing in front of a massive line-up of people on Canada Day who were eagerly waiting to be granted access to something that has been years in the making. A few minutes later I was inside the doors myself and just started taking it all in, watching around 125 people splish and splash all over the place, do cannonballs off the diving board, and shoot like a rocket down the slides.
I almost had to remind myself that what I was seeing unfold in front of me was the real deal.
Outlook’s new swimming pool facility is officially open.
My friends, the long and winding road that was traveled to ensure this place would eventually become a reality should not go unnoticed. It was a road comprised of peaks and valleys, twists and turns, and just enough suspense, drama and heart-felt emotion that I’m sure I could write a book about it one day.
It began with an idea just over five and a half years ago. There was a public meeting called in Outlook at the Heritage Centre in November 2013 to give an update on the state of the then-current pool down in the regional park, which was edging its way ever so slightly towards the riverbank. To put it short, the pool was on burrowed time like never before, and the idea began floating about to establish a committee that would explore fundraising for an eventual new pool facility.
Flash forward to July of 2014, and I tagged along with said committee and then-mayor Bob Stephenson on a day trip over to the community of Foam Lake, which was just about to open its own brand-new pool facility. We met with Western Recreation, the pool contractors, and toured the location. It was a very impressive location, with all sorts of attractive amenities, and you could almost smell the envy in the air.
I remember the drive back to Outlook that day. The conversation revolved around several questions amongst those in the group: Was such a facility like this possible in Outlook? Would it be something that the community would get fully behind? Could it be sustainable? What would be the exact costs? Where would you put such a grand and vast pool to begin with?
And so began the fundraising and promotion efforts. Man, when I remember those early days of the committee working to get the word out about a possible new pool in Outlook, it amazes me how far things have really come. People outright rolled their eyes at the notion back in 2014/15, and the attitude from many was along the lines of, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” When they weren’t saying that, they were asking over and over why the new pool wasn’t going to be built in the regional park again. I swear, it started to sound like a collective broken record with that gem.
The fundraising over the years was varied and plentiful; garage and yard sales, spring fling dances, raffles, neighborhood canvassing blitzes, and enough BBQ and assorted meal fundraisers to feed several armies. Outside of that, large-scale events such as live auctions held in May 2015 and April 2019 respectively made some impressive coin.
But I think what really tipped the scales in favor of this whole thing was when Alberta cattle producer and philanthropist Cor Van Raay handed over a cheque for $500,000 in the summer of 2016. That blew everyone out of the water and really opened peoples’ eyes to the fact that, ‘Hey, this thing is really gonna happen!’
That massively generous donation by Cor gave this whole thing legitimacy, and it opened the doors to the shovels officially going in the ground the following July over Outlook’s Canada 150 weekend celebrations. Work on the facility started in the days following that event, and two years later (it would’ve been one year except that we had a very long winter and spring runoff period in 2018), here we are.
To say that it’s been a journey to arrive at the new pool would be an understatement, and I couldn’t think of a better day to open the doors than on Canada Day.
The work that went on behind the scenes to bring it to life was immense and incredible. Everyone collectively ‘pooled’ their resources, and in the end, history was made for the town of Outlook. I hope no one takes this achievement lightly because this is one of those things that will go down in the record books for this entire community.
Congratulations on a gorgeous new pool facility, Outlook! Now let’s plan an epic Grand Opening party and give it the celebration it deserves!
For this week, that’s been the Ruttle Report.