CARI — Capital Area Recreation Inc. — cries out for a better name. Even setting aside my personal acronymophobia, the name means nothing more than a bureaucratic arrangement. Even the “Charlottetown Pool and Rink” would be better.
But the pool rocks.
Oliver and Catherine and I went out for a swim this afternoon.
We’re used to the “family swim” time at places like the Delta and the old YMCA being an obscure Sunday hour or two. At CARI, “family swim” in the shallow leisure pool is always. Which means from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. weekdays, from 9:00 a.m. on the weekends. This is fantastic, and will mean much to families with complex schedules that want to go for a family swim.
We’re used to “swimming with Oliver” meaning that either Catherine or I has to take him in the men’s or women’s locker room with us, and try to change ourselves while simultaneously preventing him from running into the sauna. At CARI, there’s a large, bright family change room in addition to the men’s and women’s. A family locker room, by the way, doesn’t mean “friends and neighbours, men and women, naked together” as I tentatively feared — there are many spacious lockable change rooms off the locker room where you can do your bathing costume voodoo in peace.
We’re used to pools where the only nod to the existence of those under 12 years is a “shallow end” that’s less deep than the “deep end.” At CARI, there’s an entire pool (the aforementioned “leisure pool”) that is shallow. Shallow enough for Oliver to walk around in. And there’s an even-shallower and warmer pool inset into one corner that would work well for the younger and shorter. The main leisure pool has barrier-free access, meaning that anyone can walk or roll in on a gentle grade.
The only downside for Oliver (or more properly for us, who had to contend with Oliver in its presence) is the giant waterslide that careens down into the far end of the leisure pool. I don’t begrudge its presence, and I secretly want to go back and experience it myself; but it’s awfully hard to explain to a 3 year old why he’s not old enough to experience something that looks so much fun.
The only fault I would find with the CARI pool setup is the absence, at least so far, of any sort of membership program. Although they do offer discounted books of tickets, it still means about $12.00/visit for the three of us (combined), which will add up. We would buy a membership in a heartbeat if they were available. I would also encourage CARI to look into a setup, commonly practised by the YMCA, where access to the pool would be available for free, or at a reduced rate, for those who can’t afford full price.
One other small issue: life for parents would be a lot easier if they took out the candy machines that cover the central hallway like the dew. Nothing like trying to wrangle a kid all wound up on a good swim away from the dizzy allure of the demon sugar.
CARI has seen its share of controversy over its conception, funding and build. From finding a home, to the drawn-out schedule, to the $400 million cost (I’m exagerating). I don’t know enough about the particulars to know how we’ll make out as taxpayers when all is said and done. As parents, though, we’re doing all right.