The Bell Aliant Centre in Charlottetown is offering free monthly swims starting this Sunday.
Families will be able to use the facility from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. AT on the third Sunday of every month until June 2024.
Emily Swaine, manager of the aquatics department at the Bell Aliant Centre, said they usually see a dip in numbers around the holidays.
"We might not see some of the regulars … or we just have less families coming in," she said.
Normally, a family of four would have to pay just under $23 to swim. Swaine said she hopes letting people in for free will help them set aside their worries.
"They can just come in, enjoy the free swim, and have some time with their family."
We hope the people come out and use this wonderful facility.- Ron Profit, President of the Y Service Club
While it's advertised as a family swim, Swaine said all are welcome. There is a capacity limit, though, based on the number of lifeguards on duty.
The centre is expecting more than 300 people for the opening swim and has increased staff to accommodate that, she said.
Emily Swaine, manager of the aquatics department at the Bell Aliant Centre, says they are expecting more than 300 people for the first free swim this Sunday. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)
Swaine said the Y Service Club provided funding to cover the cost of extra staff.
"That was a big help," she said. "We hope it makes a big difference for some people to come in. I know it's hard to find activities that are low cost or no cost."
Normally, a swim at the Bell Aliant Centre would cost a family of four just under $23, said the facility's aquatics department manager. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)
Ron Profit, president of the Y Service Club, said he is concerned sports are being increasingly oriented toward upper and upper-middle class families.
"Sports is getting far too expensive for people," Profit said."[They] have to pay the full cost of sports, whereas in the past it wasn't that way. It was government supported."
He said he values what sports can do for youth, and how it can help their mental and physical well-being.
Profit said the eight free swims were made available with a single $4,000 contribution from the Y Service club.
"It's not a lot. We encourage other service clubs or other organizations to consider doing the same thing," he said.
"Whether it's free access to the rinks, which are part of this facility as well.… It's a great service to the community."
Ron Profit, president of the Y Service Club, says the eight free swims were made possible with a single $4,000 contribution from the club. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)
Profit said he hopes people will take advantage of the free swims.
"We hope the people come out and use this wonderful facility," he said.
"Particularly people who perhaps haven't been here, and particularly people who can't afford to be here. We hope to encourage those families to come out."