Vancouver park board will consider new competitive pool at Connaught Park and outdoor hot tubs

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      Vancouver park board staff have prepared a 110-page report outlining options to expedite the construction of new pools, hot tubs, and spray parks in the city.

      Included in the recommendations is a call for a new high-level competitive pool. It would be part of a new Vancouver Aquatic Centre in Kitsilano's Connaught Park.

      "An initial test fit shows that the pool can be accommodated in a renewed facility complex with minimal effects on park service levels," the report states. "Design and engagement with facility and park users will be undertaken through future study."

      The report suggests that this pool "will include sport training and some levels of competition, similar to current VAC [Vancouver Aquatic Centre] pool, as well as a leisure component".

      It also raises the possibility of using temporary pools for event hosting.

      "International (and some national) level competitions will require separate warm up tanks, additional deck space and deeper tanks," the report adds. "These are different from the year round needs of the community, or majority of events."

      The report features photos of competitive pools in other cities.
      Vancouver park board

      The report comes forward more than a year after the then NPA-controlled board instructed staff to "explore quick start strategies" to facilitate construction of new outdoor pools even if this involved reallocating capital funding.

      This was to ensure that NPA commissioners could achieve their party's pre-election promise to build three new outdoor pools.

      Since then, however, the NPA has lost its majority on the park board when Comm. Erin Shum broke from caucus to sit as an independent.

      She was subsequently elected as the park board's vice chair and has, at times, sided with the two Green commissioners and one Vision Vancouver commissioner on key votes.

      This raises questions whether the three NPA commissioners can fulfill their election promise.

      Meanwhile, public engagement on the report's recommendations will begin in September before final proposals are brought forward to the board in December.

      The report, which will be discussed at the June 18 meeting, is designed to "introduce draft recommendations to the board for information prior to phase 2 of public engagement".

      It covers indoor pools and outdoor pools,  and "broadens the definition of aquatics to include beaches, wading pools, and spray parks".

      It notes that the pool in the Hillcrest community centre is "as close to capacity as is comfortable". Others, however, are far from approaching capacity.

      The "most underutilized, least efficient, and have the highest subsidy per swim" are those pools reaching the end of their functional lifespan: Vancouver Aquatic Centre, Kerrisdale, Britannia, Lord Byng, and Templeton.

      "They make up only 34% of all visits to indoor pools," the report states.

      Destination spray parks like this could be coming to Vancouver.
      Vancouver park board

      Indoor pools may be transformed

      Upgrades have been recommended for all five of these indoor pools.

      Staff say that Templeton and Britannia, which were built in 1974 and 1975 respectively, should be combined into one community pool. Kerrisdale, which was built in 1955, should be replaced with a community pool.

      According to the report, the 43-year-old Vancouver Aquatic Centre should become a "wellness-oriented" destination pool on the same site.

      Staff recommend that Lord Byng's 38-year-old pool be demolished and replaced with a new citywide destination pool with a sport-training focus.

      The report calls for maintaining existing pools at Renfrew, Killarney, and Hillcrest.

      As for outdoor pools, the report recommends change rooms, concession stands, and food services at all locations, as well as considering upgrades "to provide shade, and potentially chair and umbrella rentals".

      There's also a suggestion that the board consider "integrating hot tubs" at New Brighton, Kitsilano, and Second Beach outdoor pools.

      The report raises the prospect of converting part of the Fraser River into a swimming destination.
      Vancouver park board

      Southeast Vancouver may get more swimming pools

      The also report identifies what it calls a "gap for outdoor leisure swimming" on the city's southeast side.

      It points out that locating outdoor components alongside indoor pools will lower the park board's subsidy per swim. This would be due to shared mechanical systems, shared marketing and admissions, and shared staffing.

      To accomplish this objective, the report proposes adding an outdoor leisure pool and hot tub alongside the Killarney indoor pool. There's also a recommendation for a spray park or an outdoor hot tub at Britannia.

      Vancouver park board

      In addition, the report calls for a Fraser River destination park. As well, there's a recommendation for possible inclusion of a harbour deck in a prominent location. This would enable swimmers to jump off the deck into the river.

      According to the report, existing wading pools do not meet Health Act regulations. And converting to salt-water sanitization won't remedy this.

      That means current wading pools have to be filled daily with potable water, disinfected and tested during the day, and drained at specific intervals on a daily basis.

      As a result, the report recommends continuing to phase out wading pools by either closing them or converting them to spray parks.