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Winnipeg family frustrated over slow repairs to accessible change rooms at pool

Winnipeg family frustrated over slow repairs to accessible change rooms at pool
Global News' Amber McGuckin reports on one family's frustrations over how long repairs are taking to accessible change rooms at Sergeant Tommy Prince Place pool.

Kristen Claydon’s face lights up when she talks about swimming at her dad’s cabin at West Hawk Lake as a kid.

“If it were up to me, I would have probably been in the water all day, every day,” she said.

Kristen has cerebral palsy, and when she and her mother Wendy found a pool that was accessible for all of Kristen’s needs seven years ago, they were so excited.

“This pool is a gem in the city,” said Wendy.

Kristen Claydon and her mom Wendy Claydon-Preteau are frustrated by lack of options for Kristen to go swimming.
Kristen Claydon and her mom Wendy Claydon-Preteau are frustrated by lack of options for Kristen to go swimming. Amber McGuckin/Global News

Sergeant Tommy Prince Place pool has specialized lifts, change rooms and a ramp into the pool making it the only place Kristen can swim since she relies on a wheelchair.

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Wendy says those change room lifts have been under repair since July.

“It’s been stressful,” she said.

After going to the pool weekly to check on the status of the repairs, she cut her trips down to once a month and finally resorted to calling.

In the past six months, Wendy has contacted 311 roughly five times to see when the lifts would be fixed — each time being given a different time span.

READ MORE: More work needed to make Manitoba accessible: disability advocate group

She says as the parent of someone with a disability, you want to see them involved in the community and making a difference.

“It’s not fair they have to miss out on activities able-bodied people can do.”

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An activity like swimming isn’t just for leisure; it benefits Kristen’s health, she says.

Her spastic cerebral palsy causes her body to become very tight.

“It helps us be able to stretch our muscles and get them to be able to relax and move in ways that they aren’t usually able to do on a daily basis,” she said.

Unstoppable Tracy raising awareness about accessibility
Unstoppable Tracy raising awareness about accessibility

Kristen follows a physiotherapy plan five times a week at her day program that she says helps ease her muscle tension, but doesn’t provide the same feeling as swimming.

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“There’s something about being in the water,” she says. “It feels very freeing.”

A city spokesperson told Global News that in September the pool was closed for regular maintenance and that the accessible change rooms remained closed until Nov. 15 for renovations and lift repairs.

The spokesperson says the change rooms were closed at the end of November again but have been up and running as of Dec. 2.

However, when Wendy called 311 Saturday afternoon, a representative said the accessibility change rooms were closed “until further notice.”

The pool’s website also says the same thing.

A city spokesperson clarified and said the 311 operator had the wrong information.

A screen capture from the city’s website shows the accessible change rooms at the Sergeant Tommy Prince Place pool remain closed.
A screen capture from the city’s website shows the accessible change rooms at the Sergeant Tommy Prince Place pool remain closed. Winnipeg.ca