All in the Family (Day swim)

Kaiah Thoresen, 6, of Duncan hand-crafts a bird feeder using a pinecone and peanut butter during the debut of downtown Duncan’s B.C. Family Day Event at Duncan city square on Feb. 10. - Andrew Leong
Kaiah Thoresen, 6, of Duncan hand-crafts a bird feeder using a pinecone and peanut butter during the debut of downtown Duncan’s B.C. Family Day Event at Duncan city square on Feb. 10.
— image credit: Andrew Leong

Staff at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre were running flat out on Family Day Monday with more than 700 visitors stopping by to take advantage of their free family dip.

"It's a tough situation, a stressful one, but it's an enjoyable stressful situation when we have that many people using our facility," North Cowichan's deputy parks and rec director Don Stewart said.

He reported lineups out the door when the facility reached its peak capacity, 450 people, at about 12:45 p.m.

The free swim started at noon and saw a steady stream of swimmers until it wrapped at 4 p.m.

Pool staff were vigilant in keeping track of people coming and going, so as to keep the lineup moving and at the same time not exceed their limit.

And there wasn't a shortage in members on duty either, as the organizers expected a substantial turnout. Stewart estimated the longest wait for participants was 20 minutes at the peak 12:45 p.m.

"Waiting 20 minutes to enjoy a free swim, that's not too bad in our books," he said, indicating hopes to offer the same no cost swim next year.

After complaints when the pool was closed for last year’s first edition of Family Day in B.C., Stewart was pumped funding came together this year. Three parties — North Cowichan parks and recreation, CUPE Local 358, and the province of B.C. — combined to make sure families could take a dip at no cost.

"This time last year I wrote/voiced my opinion/disappointment regarding the lack of activities provided to those living in the Cowichan Valley on B.C.'s first Family Day," wrote Daniel Mayer in a letter to the News Leader Pictorial. "There is no need to repeat my entire commentary regarding the matter, except my last sentence, which was as follows: 'try to impress us North Cowichan; you have 363 days left to plan for next year.'

"Well, during those 363 days something happened... all I have to say is wow," Mayer continued. "Awesome job on impressing, as my family and I had a great time in the gym at the Island Savings Centre and the pool."

The rainy weather that struck shortly after 12:30 p.m. on Monday likely also played a part in families choosing indoor activities.

But about 200 courageous souls also made a trip downtown Duncan for the DBIA's ‘For the Love of Community," shindig staged in the city core.

"I wasn't really sure what to expect," said organizer Jen Doyle, pleased with the turnout, considering the soggy weather. "When people realized last year, that nothing was really going on, and the community wasn't happy about it, we decided it was time to step up."

She sent good vibes to all those who participated in the city's first ever Family Day event and those who worked together to make it happen.

"Everyone really liked the idea," she said.

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