This is a tough week if you’re a dedicated swimmer looking to do your laps in a local pool.
The region’s pools are closed from Creston to Grand Forks — and administrators say there’s not much they can do about it.
“We do it generally this time of year because it’s the slowest time of the year,” says Jim Crockett, the recreation manager for the Castlegar and District Community Complex. “It really is an in-between time for the schedules of different programmes, not just our programming but swim clubs, lessons, etc.
“So it’s kind of a transition period between summer program and fall programming, when things really get into full gear.”
That logic applies to all local pools, and that’s why every pool in the West Kootenay is shut down this week. Castlegar will be the first to re-open, on Sept. 4. Creston will restart on Sept. 7, and Trail and Nelson on Sept. 10. So if you really want to get your laps in you have to travel to at least Cranbrook — or maybe Spokane.
“We know the public is concerned about that,” says Crockett, who’s seen negative feedback on social media about the simultaneous shutdowns. “There is some concern we should be scheduling this differently.
“And honestly we’ve looked at this quite closely, to see if we could do it in spring, but we’d have the same push-back in the spring. In the spring we’d be pushing more people away from the pool, especially depending on the weather.”
It’s not only the public that pool managers have to consider, but staff scheduling. The pool work is done by the same crew that also maintains the arena.
“In early August we are prepping our ice, and once the ice is in, the following week we have the pool shutdown,” Crockett explains. “It’s the same crew doing both. So it takes our full maintenance crew to put ice in, and full crew to do the pool repairs.”
And while the pool’s not being drained this year — that’s an every-second-year job, says Crockett — the crew has been busy.
New LED lights have been installed in the main pool area, and the hot tub drained for a good scrubbing. Tiles have been repaired around the pool deck, and filter systems cleaned out.
“The main thing on a pool shutdown is trying to keep up with all the things you can’t do when the public is here,” says Al Ambrosio, the facility engineer. “We try to look into the future a bit, to make sure we are going to run for another season. Preventative maintenance is what we are doing.
“We have contractors in, doing our lighting, and we have our own five guys doing some painting, caulking, washing windows, tiles, re-piping stuff, so there’s a job for everybody,” says Ambrosio.
The biggest job, however, has been a redesign of part of the pool’s chlorine system. Crockett says Interior Health gave the complex a directive to re-plumb some of the system to make it safer. Much of the work is being done in-house, and won’t be a significant hit on the budget, he says.
Crockett says the pool will be back up and operating — ready for its first swimmer — on schedule Sept. 4.