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With long flights south and even longer winters, it’s imperative that Yellowknife has top notch sports and recreational facilities.

Without decent facilities, children growing up in Yellowknife would find themselves behind they eight-ball, not only for those kids seeking to achieve athletic greatness, of which there are more than a few, but everyone else looking for a way to stay active.

For the most part, Yellowknife has accomplished that and not without a bit of ingenuity. Fifteen years ago, with Gerry Murphy Arena on its last legs and growing demand for ice time, the city enlisted the help of Diavik Diamond Mine to help build the Multiplex. Its involvement shaved more $2 million off the $11-million-plus bill to build it.

These sporting facilities aren’t cheap and every year there is much whinging as property taxes and user fees climb remorselessly upward. No doubt not all the money is well spent but it’s hard to argue against state-of-the-art facilities where our children can stay active and safe and develop healthy habits throughout life.

Being involved in recreational activities has never been more important in society, as kids spend more time that ever on the couch in front of a screen of some type.

Sports helps build healthy bodies and also healthy minds, as the concept of team-building and socializing with children of other cultures and different social status.

And for a lucky few, it can also lead to a life of high-level amateur or professional sports.

Some nationally known names to emerge from the city’s recreation scene include: Michael Gilday (Olympic speedskater); Denis Ramsden (Olympic cycling); Steven Hodges (junior hockey player, drafted by Florida Panthers); Peter Bergman (another star hockey player); Vic Mercredi (former NHLer); Greg Vaydik (former NHLer); Thomas D’Hont (cross-country skier); and Victoria Rankin (college hockey player).

One area where Yellowknife remains ill-equipped is with its pool.

A 2017 survey found only 20 per cent of respondents stated they were “very satisfied” with Ruth Inch Memorial Pool.

Thankfully, the 30-year-old pool is set to be replaced. And the city appears to be going about in the correct way, having invited the public in an online aquatic centre pre-design survey.

A new pool could cost more than $30 million, the cost of which would be split by various levels of government. The current pool is set to reach the end of its lifespan by 2020.

The pool stands as another important symbol for how the quality of life is considered in the city.

Not only will a new facility greatly improve recreation options for residents of all ages, it will mean we can continue to build on our status as a tourist and convention attraction by having the proper number and length of swimming lanes to hold sanctioned competitions.

Swimming is also a good way to intrude young children to the benefits of exercise.

It can be a pre-school introduction into organized youth sports, which can lead to hockey, soccer and a host of other sports.

Yellowknife needs to do everything it can to make this an attractive place for people to live work and play. We need to provide reasons for people to decide to put down roots here, when they are looking at moving here, or moving away from here.

Having top-notch facilities such as a new pool will certainly help.

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