SCONA POOL to close

August 24, 2022

On Wednesday, August 24, 2022 – Edmonton City Council heard from the City Manager. 

The city manager delivered a report that spoke about how under closer inspection, SCONA POOL not only needs a new heat exchanger, a part that has been operating since 1959, but also that with the consultation of repair personnel, engineers, and lawyers, that SCONA POOL would need to close and undergo 6 Million dollars in renovations, otherwise the space would be deemed too much of a risk and a liability. 

The advocacy around keeping Scona pool open for the last 13 years has been fierce, and the list is too long to name everyone here needs to be thanked. Thank you.

Today we presented to City Council, 17+ community members, including River City Rec, long-time advocates like Elaine Solez, several community youths, and current Scona high school students made impassioned speeches and presentations in favour of keeping Scona Pool open. City Council voted to close the pool because of what I see as the following logic: The pool poses a health and safety risk, and the liability is too great for the city to assume such a risk at this time. 

In order to keep the pool open under the banner of a City of Edmonton facility, 6 million dollars and a closure of at least a year would be needed in order to keep SCONA POOL open. 

Council was somewhat divided on the matter, and there was some debate about the potential value that a 6 million dollar and a year-long + closure would offer.

The more dominant sentiment among city councillors that were in favour of closing SCONA Pool argued that 6 million dollars on infrastructure like a swimming pool from 1959 would not be seen as fiscally responsible.
From our Queen Alexandra community league position, the closure of SCONA POOL will be a tremendous loss. 

The advocates and community voices who spoke today made strong cases for many of the reasons why having a small-scale public amenity in a walkable neighbourhood close will have a substantial negative impact on the quality of life for many people. 

Queen Alexandra is in a unique position in the city because of its proximity to walkable amenities. 

The two most recently funded recreation projects in Edmonton are Coronation Park Recreation Centre ($153.4 million), and the Lewis Farms Recreation Centre ($311 million). Yes, absolutely, these new centres will be a boon for the entire city and region. But, as Edmonton South of the river neighbourhoods like Strathcona, Ritchie, Allendale, Queen Alexandra, Parkallen, Hazeldean, Garneau, McKernan, Belgravia, Mill Creek, and others continue to densify, so grows the demand for public amenities, like rec centres and swimming pools. 

We need accessible recreation options for a diversity of patrons, and we need these places in a diversity of locations. The loss of the pool, from our perspective, gives credence to the fact that we need a replacement ASAP!

So, here’s the thing. For the last 13 years, a committed group of volunteers have devoted themselves tirelessly, to make sure that SCONA POOL stays open until a new Rollie Miles Rec Centre ($80 million *Proposed) gets built. 

Today was a hard day and many tears were shed at the loss of SCONA POOL – but it can’t end here. 

We must raise our voices, not only to the city council, who heard many tell heartfelt stories about how SCONA pool makes their lives rich with experience –  but also to our friends and colleagues across this city. 

Those who live in other parts of the city and ostensibly have the least to gain from a new Rollie Miles Rec centre need to hear your own stories of the qualitative and quantitative value of why small-scale recreation options matter to you, and how our lives as citizens are interconnected. I say this with an eye to the next opportunity which will come in the Fall, date is not set yet when Council will decide what projects make it into the next capital budget and which will not. 

When the time comes, we want to be ready to make our voices heard that we need Rollie Miles Rec Centre to be included in the coming 4-year budget, 2023-26. 

We heard from city administration today that if funding is approved and everything is presumably fast-tracked as much as possible and without any significant delays. The earliest a new Rollie Miles Rec Centre could open would be 2027/2028. Now that Scona Pool is officially closing we will need to redouble our efforts into advocacy for Rollie Miles and reduce the number of years without a pool. Together, we can make it happen, just like we kept Scona Pool open for an extra 13 years. 

On September 17 at 11 am we will gather together for a Membership Drive at Queen Alexandra Community League10425 University Ave. Stay tuned for more information.  On the day, we can use the opportunity to gather together to share stories, meet neighbours, strategize about activism, and strengthen our resolve about how best to advocate for a Rollie Miles Rec Centre for all Edmontonians.

When further information is available, we will be sure to host an event where we can celebrate the Scona Pool before the doors are closed for good.  

Note* word has it that 311 has been ringing off the hook all afternoon with calls from concerned citizens in shock at the closure of SCONA POOL. Who knows, maybe the squeaky wheel approach is best. 

QACL President, Andriko LozowyCopyright © 2022 Queen Alexandra Community League, All rights reserved. 
You are receiving this email because you participated in our Community Recreation Conversation. 

Our mailing address is: Queen Alexandra Community LeaguePO Box 4546 Stn South Edmonton, AB T6E 5G4 Canada

Broken Windows, Spray Paint, and Litter

Somewhere along the readingrainbow, I came across an argument/question that went something like this: is it cultural imperialism to suggest that because we pick up and gather our garbage to move it and pile it and bury it in specific toxic locations? Is it better than what happens in less bureaucratic places, where garbage/litter/rubbish basically goes wherever anyone leaves it? Meaning, the appearance is one of less organized (space) and perhaps even more polluted (places), even though the levels of toxicity is likely less-concentrated and thus less-harmful than the former method of strict cultural garbage policing practices.*

* (Note) Memory isn’t all it is cracked up to be: Thanks Jim Morrow for pointing me back to the source which is: The Journey Home: Some Words in The Defence of the American West, a collection of writings by Edward Abbey. Perhaps of some interest is the fact that this essay, The Second Rape of the West was originally published in Playboy, vol. 22, no. 12, December 1975 (Playmate: Nancie Li Brandi ** Linked here because a search for the essay in the Playboy issue yielded the linked result. The issue of the Playmate (is that still a thing? Holy Shit, it is still a thing. Anyways, the Abbey quote goes like this: ‘Rumbling along in my 1962 Dodge D-100, the last good truck Dodge ever made, I tossed my empty out the window and popped the top from another can of Schlitz. Littering the public highway? Of course I litter the public highway. Every chance I get. After all, it’s not the beer cans that are ugly; it’s the highway that is ugly. Beer cans are beautiful, and someday when recycling becomes a serious enterprise, the government can put one million kids to work each summer picking up the cans I and others have thoughtfully stored along the roadways’. The rest of the essay is, as the title suggests, bleak.

Onto Broken Windows. Broken Windows 35 years later.

Broken Windows can be summarized by this phrase “untended property becomes fair game for people out for fun or plunder and even for people who ordinarily would not dream of doing such things and who probably consider themselves law-abiding… But vandalism can occur anywhere once communal barriers—the sense of mutual regard and the obligations of civility—are lowered by actions that seem to signal that “no one cares.”

As the New Yorker identifies – The Other Side of Broken Windows, is one where a place based approach becomes the focus rather than a peopel based approach: “What the Philadelphia studies suggest is that place-based interventions are far more likely to succeed than people-based ones. “Tens of millions of vacant and abandoned properties exist in the United States,” Branas and his team wrote. Remediating those properties is simple, cheap, and easily reproducible. What’s more, the programs impose few demands on local residents, and they appear to pay for themselves. “Simple treatments of abandoned buildings and vacant lots returned conservative estimates of between $5.00 and $26.00 in net benefits to taxpayers and between $79.00 and $333.00 to society at large, for every dollar invested,” the team wrote. It’s not only more dangerous to leave the properties untended—it’s more expensive.”

I grew up in the suburbs. The kind of place where broken windows philosophies prevailed. People it seems were kept largely in-line becaue of what I percieve as a dominant veneer of order. The suburbs, in this case Stathcona County, which includes oil refineries and rural areas in 2018 ranked #31 on a MoneySense list of 100 wealthiest places in Canada at an average household networth of $1,171,105CAD. For context, West Vancouver comes in at #1 with an average household net worth of $4,536,269CAD. As self-reported by Strathcona County, the average houshold income is $160,655/yr/CAD.

So, even though my own dollar amounts in terms of wealth and income do not come anywhere close to the amounts I just mentioned above – the effect of growing up within the context of great economic wealth has had an effect on my psyche, A) daily I contend with the anxiety that I have not achieved the economic foundation that my parents generation did, and B) that wherever I go, city, town, place, I end up holding up a metaphorical Grey Card that was calibrated to interpret that Stathcona County is the norm, against which all else of compared. The problem with this kind of patterned thinking is that it works in direct contrast with my training as a Sociologist. Sociology trains students to see the grey between binary poles of black and white, but, in my case, what I am expressing is that my grey is likely skewed. Perhaps what is clear is that I am curious enough to engage with the literature and then act. 

Okay, now that I have exumed the psychoanalyisis of self, I will now move on to the way in which my personal psychogeography acts in relation to place based chaos, like litter…

Today July 5, 2019, I found myself acting in fairly automatic ways to

A) remove some graffiti on a stop sign outside our house. And
B) while at a community neighbourhood park (not our closest or most frequently visited one) Little A was playing games with some other kids, so I took the opportunity to pick up a whole grocery bag full of garbage, as well, I called the city hotline (in Edmonton, thats 311) to let them know that the Garbage bins needed emptying.

While I picked up garbage I noticed that others prefered not to notice me – as though there is some particular social rules that a half dozen other adults, and a few dozen children, who watched me seemed to follow while they did their best to pretend I did not exist. My action became a form of invisibility. The garbage strewn about the park, the wrappers and lids and balloons, all vanished from the green and sand space, and simultaneously I disappeared while picking up. Even the four playground City of Edmonton staff members choose to avert their gaze when I looked up.

What is my hope here?
That spaces populated by children remain garbage free? Of course my action has no bearing on pollution at the large scale. So, I guess I am just a broken windows kid from the priveleged pristine suburbs trying to live in a city where detritus, garbage, and other sundry items populate and clutter, built and manufactured spaces. Or perhaps I believe in the idea that when we tend and nurture spaces, our lives are positively shaped by the affective qualities of taking care, maintenance, and earned pride.

Apologies, this post grew into something larger than my 500 word intent.

Now what’s this all about?


Now that you are here you probably want to know what this is all about?

Simply put, this website is a dedicated space for disseminating images, writings and discussions about a University of Alberta led collaborative research project.

Over the course of my own dissertation work in the Dept. of Sociology Where is Fort McMurray emerged as the central research question.

From a co-authored paper about to be submitted for review,

To get at the questions of community, we pursued a course of research that focused on youth. High school aged youth evolved through a trajectory that saw their role as; subjects, participants, collaborators, researchers, and advocates. Multi-level collaboration, meant that we could ebb and flow with one another and the various connected individuals and groups to help illustrate a rich and broad temporary representation of social flows.  Along with community we settled on the  just-abstract-enough question of “Where is Fort McMurray?” taken colloquially, the question asks with a deceptively broad yet deep stroke, taken literally, the questions seems to ask at geography, and taken metaphorically – we found that responses developed as deeply introspective reflections on what it means to be, in relation to a place, in this case, Fort McMurray. Depending on respondents’ age, maturity, and cultural background, “Where is Fort McMurray?” offered us a starting point to any conversation, as well ensuring that we would not be getting a singular response.” – (Dorow, S., Shields, R., Lozowy, A. 2012)

As the research arm of this multi-year project evolves into writing and dissemination we will be sharing the work internationally as a way to enter into discussions around energy, oil, flows, cameras, pictures, images, youth, multi-level collaborative research, affect, and topologies.

Rob Shields is already off to the printers with this article (linked temporarily to SCRIBD) on Youth, Oil, and Cultural Topologies. (Forthcoming International Journal of Cultural Studies, 2012)

Where is Fort McMurray was born out of both SSHRC and Killam grants awarded to Sara Dorow. Her larger project goes by the working title: Social Landscapes of Neoliberal Growth: the case of Fort McMurray, Alberta. Sara Dorow along with Sarah O’Shaughnessy are guest editors on the upcoming special issue titled – Community Between State and Market: thinking Through Fort McMurray, slated for August 2012 through CJS.

The camera produces community...