JUST TWO POOLS TO OPEN

City shut­ters six oth­ers due to virus

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE - TODD SAEL­HOF tsael­hof@post­media.com Twit­ter: @Toddsael­hofpm

Hot sum­mer days were made for swim­ming out­doors.

But so­cial dis­tanc­ing mea­sures due to the coro­n­avirus pan­demic will cut into the pool time of Cal­gar­i­ans in the next few months, with just two of the city’s eight out­door fa­cil­i­ties open­ing up for the sea­son.

Call it a sum­mer bum­mer for swim­ming en­thu­si­asts.

“It’s re­ally un­for­tu­nate that our pool is un­able to open and that so many in the city are also in the same po­si­tion,” said Kate Sten­son, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Hill­hurst Sun­ny­side Com­mu­nity As­so­ci­a­tion, which op­er­ates Bowview Out­door Swim­ming Pool.

“On those hot-weather days, our pool — like any other pool in the city — is jam-packed. So we know there’s lots of en­thu­si­asm around our pools dur­ing our short sum­mer sea­son in Cal­gary,” Sten­son con­tin­ued. “It’s un­for­tu­nate to be miss­ing out on that al­to­gether. I’m sure the com­mu­nity will be up­set that this is hap­pen­ing. Peo­ple have been chomp­ing at the bit to spend time out­side and have more op­tions like swim­ming out­doors.”

Af­ter care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion in the face of the on­go­ing world health cri­sis, it won’t hap­pen at Bowview and five other fa­cil­i­ties over­seen by the Cal­gary Out­door Swim­ming Pools As­so­ci­a­tion.

The other pools re­main­ing shut for the rest of the year are Mount Pleas­ant, Mil­li­can Ogden, For­est Lawn and Stan­ley Park.

And an­other, South Cal­gary Out­door Swim­ming Pool, is al­ready sched­uled to be closed for re­pairs.

“This was a very hard decision for the board to make, as we have for the past 15 years made sure these pools open on time,” said COSPA ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Jenny Jensen.

“The decision to close them was made af­ter much de­lib­er­a­tion and re­view of the Al­berta gov­ern­ment’s guide­lines and the Life­sav­ing So­ci­ety Al­ber­tan and North­west Ter­ri­to­ries Branch rec­om­men­da­tion for re­open­ing swim­ming pools,” Jensen con­tin­ued. “It was de­ter­mined that the guide­lines to open at this time were too re­stric­tive to op­er­ate in a safe and en­joy­able rou­tine for all. We plan on us­ing this time to make im­prove­ments at the pools and make sure we are ready to open next sea­son.”

The two that will open are those in Sil­ver Springs and High­wood, but they will have Al­berta Health Ser­vices COVID -19 re­stric­tions in place for the safety of the pa­trons, in­clud­ing a limit on how many swim­mers can be in the pool at one time.

COSPA is work­ing on a date for those pools to open for the sum­mer.

The rec­om­men­da­tions from the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment, says Sten­son, are to have would-be swim­mers pre-reg­is­ter and then put time lim­its in place.

Such re­stric­tions are a big rea­son why six of the city pools won’t be open­ing.

“It re­ally just came out to a decision as to if this could be fea­si­ble or not,” said Sten­son, adding that the Bowview pool — which typ­i­cally gen­er­ates rev­enue dur­ing a warm sum­mer — would have needed to find money for at least two more full-time staff po­si­tions due to the re­stric­tions. “With the dis­tanc­ing in place, there would be so few peo­ple al­lowed in the pool at a time, and then you still need all the staff in place for life­guard­ing and mon­i­tor­ing the dis­tanc­ing and ex­tra clean­ing. The ra­tio of staff to peo­ple and the pool just doesn’t work out favourably.

“As an or­ga­ni­za­tion, we’ve been hit pretty hard fi­nan­cially with all of our rev­enue be­ing cut off com­pletely in mid-march. For a cou­ple of months from there, the com­mu­nity as­so­ci­a­tion just had no rev­enue com­ing in at all. So we’re just not in a po­si­tion to be op­er­at­ing some­thing at a loss.”

AZIN GHAFFARI

Mikey Strother-ste­wart, man­ager, Abi Dal­gleish, and Alex Dal­gleish, life­guards at Sil­ver Spring pool, mark the walls to fa­cil­i­tate phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing on Mon­day.

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