Editorial: Recreation matters

The town of Goderich in western Ontario has found an innovative, yet old-school way to fix the doctor shortage in their community. It could be one that could be adopted in South Dundas: more recreation.

Goderich, a town of about 8,000 people, had just five family doctors left in the community. Barely 10 years later, the community has 28 doctors according to a recent report by the CBC.

How did Goderich do it? In short, the community invested in its own facilities and recreation to make the town more attractive to doctors and other professionals. This included constructing a $6.5 million indoor pool and recreation facility, operated by the YMCA. The town partnered with a doctor recruitment program which worked with nearby universities to bring doctors in for training. Goderich was being proactive as existing doctors in the community began to retire.

When considering factors that attract people to a community, what to do in that community appears top-most for families. How far one has to travel to reach desirable amenities detracts from an area’s natural scenic, quiet benefits. Recreation facilities really matter when it comes to a community’s appeal.

The outcome of last week’s Report on Youth by South Dundas youth intern Kaileigh Helmer highlights this again. An overwhelming majority of the over 100 youth who took part in the report said they wanted more things to do in South Dundas. Those youth appreciated the programs and facilities we have already, but they still go elsewhere for recreation.

The benefits of recreation serve not just to attract doctors and retain our youth. Active recreation is vital to a healthy society. Having more recreation means social interaction, more engagement within the community, and makes South Dundas a more attractive place to live.

Recreation itself is not expensive: recreation facilities are. The Cornwall Aquatic Centre cost over $4.5 million to construct when it opened in 2005. The Russell Sports Dome, which opened in early 2018, cost over $4.5 million to build.

In order to attract and retain people in South Dundas, particularly new doctors, more must be done when it comes to recreation. Facilities come with a steep price tag, but such investments in South Dundas could pay dividends in a healthier, and more active community. And in attracting new doctors.

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