COVID-19: Vancouver outdoor pools and spray parks to reopen, with lifeguards back at beaches

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      Just as summer officially starts, Vancouver swimmers can prepare to get back in the water as the park board readies pools and beaches with new pandemic measures in place.

      The Vancouver park board (VPB) announced today (June 22) that it will reopen four outdoor pools and 10 spray parks, and that lifeguards will be back at nine beaches.

      Kitsilano, New Brighton, and Second Beach swimming pools will open July 13, with lifeguards staffing beaches for eight weeks.

      The opening of Maple Grove pool may be delayed as staff configure the online booking system.

      Spray parks will open on June 27 at Maclean, Chaldecott, Harbour Green, Grandview, Hastings, Oak, Stanley, Prince Edward, Pandora, and Garden parks.

      Lifeguards will be at designated swimming areas at English Bay, Jericho, Kitsilano, Locarno, Spanish Banks East and West, Sunset, Third, and Trout Lake beaches.

      New red and yellow flags (instead of buoys) will indicate swimming zones at beaches that will have lifeguards present between 11:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. each day until September 7.

      New safety protocols, in line with Lifesaving Society Canada’s new guidelines, for outdoor pool usage have been implemented, and enhanced lifeguard protocols have been developed with WorkSafeBC. All lifeguards will wear personal protection equipment while on duty.

      (The VPB had stated on May 13 that it was delaying the reopening of its outdoor pools until Lifesaving Society Canada’s updated guidelines were released.)

      Swimmers should take note of a number of changes at outdoors pools, which will have reduced maximum capacities.

      Admission to pools can be done through online reservations and in-person drop-ins, and all will be done with contactless electronic payment. Park board Flexipasses and cash won’t be accepted. Leisure Access Pass holders won’t be able to use the online reservation system.

      As change rooms won’t be open, swimmers should arrive ready to swim. Washrooms will be open for use. 

      Physical distancing protocols will be in place at entrances and exits, as well as throughout the facilities.  

      Pools will be open for designated lap swimming sessions and public swimming. Casual swimmers can book a 90-minute session while lap swimmers can book a 45-minute swim block.

      Lanes for length swimming have been widened and new directional signage and pool rules will be displayed.

      Sanitization will take place during a 30-minute period between swim sessions to prepare the facility for the next group. Meanwhile, lifeguards and staff will conduct spot cleans of all equipment, facilities, and high-touch areas on an ongoing basis.

      Snorkels and kickboards won’t be permitted, and swimming goggles and towel rentals won’t be available.

      Rafts also won’t be set up at beaches this year, due to concerns about safety and managing them.

      Non-slip beach mats will be available at Kitsilano and English Bay, while 10 water wheelchairs can be reserved at the City of Vancouver website. 

      The VPB has been reopening spaces across the city, including playgrounds, basketball and tennis courts, golf courses and pitch and putt, parking lots, and partial vehicle access to Stanley Park. 

      For more information and updates about City of Vancouver facilities and services, visit the city’s website.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook