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City moves forward motion to install accessible elevator at Regina's renewed Wascana Pool

The City of Regina is hoping to set a precedent with its opportunity to make the renewed Wascana Pool waterslides accessible for everyone.

On Wednesday, executive committee voted in favour of a motion that would install an outside elevator at the new Wascana Pool, allowing everyone to use the waterslides.

Krystal Johnston spoke at the executive committee meeting in support of the elevator. She does not want children to feel the way she did when she was younger.

“Because there were stairs and I was in a wheelchair and I couldn’t stand or walk, I would actually plop myself up on the floor and I would drag myself up each step up to the waterslide,” Johnston said.

“I’m happiest when I’m in the water and I want to see other children enjoy it too.”

Under the current design, the taller waterslides are only accessible by stairs. However, the smaller slide is wheelchair-friendly.

Coun. Terina Nelson has been a strong advocate for the elevator, in both a professional and personal manner. Johnston is her daughter, and Nelson has spent the last 22 years advocating for accessibility rights.

“A lot of times it wasn’t advocating for Krystal but it was advocating for the mothers and fathers that don’t have the voice or the knowledge that we had,” Nelson said.

In an emotional plea to her colleagues, she encouraged them to vote in favour of the motion.

“I’m begging you and pleading with you to please do this,” Nelson said.

Executive committee unanimously voted in favour of the motion.

City administration was tasked with finding solutions and outlining costs to address the accessibility issues. Administration considered a number of options, including an elevator, stair lift and ramp.

Following research and consultation, it recommended installing an elevator to make the pool 100 per cent accessible. Councillors believe it would be one of the first outdoor pool elevators in North America.

“When you know better, you do better and we always are learning,” Nelson said.

“We as a community came together, we as a council came together and said, ‘hey here’s an opportunity to do something that we’ve never done before.’”

The elevator would cost $555,000 to install. It would cost another $27,000 annually to operate.

Sarah Turnbull’s four-year-old daughter uses a wheelchair. Speaking to council, she said the elevator price tag would be about three per cent of the total cost of the build—a small price to make the entire pool 100 per cent accessible.

“For me personally, it means we get to participate. It means my child is not sidelined for no reason. It means she can go with her friends up and down. It is changing her whole development and how she grows up,” Turnbull said.

Mayor Sandra Masters called it a good day for council and the community. She said the discussions around the issue have been educational, and hearing from people with lived experiences helped drive the motion forward.

“Once you go through the experience of learning something and applying the learning in real time it becomes a bit of a habit and so it’s a little bit of a habit we’re trying to cultivate,” Masters said.

“Councillor Nelson has been relentless for more then two years now about her goal to have fully accessible recreational facilities in the City of Regina, so it’s hard not to feel good for her and for a community.”

City council will vote on the issue at its meeting on March 22. Masters expects council will support the motion at that meeting, too.

The renewed Wascana Pool is on track to open this year. However, it would take an additional 12 months to install an elevator. The city manager told council that the elevator would be fully operational no later than 2025. Top Stories

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