JUST TWO POOLS TO OPEN
City shutters six others due to virus
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.”
Mikey Strother-stewart, manager, Abi Dalgleish, and Alex Dalgleish, lifeguards at Silver Spring pool, mark the walls to facilitate physical distancing on Monday.