Former MLA Tom Perry leads a campaign to keep Lord Byng Pool open

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      A former NDP cabinet minister and Vision Vancouver supporter is exasperated over the park board's decision to close the Lord Byng Pool for two months for maintenance.

      Dr. Tom Perry, the self-described "spokeswimmer" for more than 300 pool users, is leading a petition drive protesting the move. The petition urges people to call the city's 311 number and ask to speak to the mayor's office or the park board.

      "I understand they have cost pressures," Perry, the former MLA for Vancouver–Point Grey, told the Georgia Straight by phone. "I don't think in a rich country like Canada it makes sense to be shutting down expensive capital facilities that are very important for health maintenance."

      He added that one of the great things about Lord Byng Pool is it is the only place where he has mixed socially in Vancouver with Chinese-Canadian immigrants other than when he was in politics.

      "It is literally the only place where we chat to each other in the swimming lanes, in the sauna, in the shower, and hot tub," Perry said. "I've made friends there on a first-name basis. We're all doing the same thing—trying to keep reasonably fit and deal with urban stress."

      Perry pointed out that for older people, water makes it easier for their bodies to exercise.

      "People in their late 70s, 80s, and 90s are there because it's not easy for them to walk or cycle," he stated. "In fact, it's probably impossible."

      Park-board vice chair Aaron Jasper told the Straight that, according to an aquatic supervisor, there needs to be extensive repairs to the plumbing underneath the pool.

      "When you're doing caulking and all the tile work and all that stuff, he says the more time you can allow it to set without it being used—put back into immediate use—it will last that much longer," he said.

      There will also be electrical upgrades, replacement of lights, and painting. Jasper stated that all of this is in addition to the regular shutdown four to six weeks of annual maintenance at all park-board pools.

      "When we were going through the budget discussions, we did look at facilities that were in need of additional work beyond just the regular maintenance," Jasper said. "Lord Byng was identified as one....If we were to shut it down in addition to the six weeks—a few extra weeks—we could really use that time to do additional work. That was an option that was approved."

      Perry, however, said he wants the park board expand Lord Byng Pool's hours of operation.

      "I'd like to see the provincial politicians—who say we need to control health expenditures—make sure municipalities have the means to keep such facilities open," he added. "I know there are hundreds of millions of dollars being wasted every year on drugs, often for people who have become too fat and develop diabetes. We just keep pouring it down the drain there, and we can't even keep a beautiful capital facility open year-round? That's what really burns me."

      Jasper acknowledged that he doesn't know the finer details of operational maintenance. So he asked the aquatic supervisor if the park-board's pool closures were normal compared to what took place in other municipalities.

      The commissioner learned from the aquatic supervisor that North Vancouver closes only one of its pools each year for maintenance, so three operate 12 months of the year.

      "He said from the Vancouver aquatic staff's perspective, doing an annual maintenance shutdown every year on every single pool will actually extend the life of our facilities," Jasper added.

      He also claimed that park-board staff are sensitive to the patrons of the Lord Byng Pool.

      The number of users is lower during summer, Jasper added, and there are outdoor options, such as Kitsilano Pool, at this time of the year.



      Save Vancouver

      Jun 22, 2012 at 8:06am

      If its not bike-related Vision Vancouver doesn't care.

      Sari L.

      Jun 22, 2012 at 9:36am

      As someone that worked in the aquatic field for 12 years, pool shut downs take time. Especially in facilities with aging infastructure.

      Anyone that has worked in aquatics and holds their Pool Operators level 1 and 2 can tell you that pool shut downs are a necessary part of regular and preventative maintenance for the good of the facility as well as the heath of the patrons that use it.

      Many times the shut downs end up lasting longer than expected due to unforseen circumstances that arise when the water is drained and the pumps are turned off and then restarted.

      When big jobs are needing to be done, such as new piping or tiling, the longer things have to set the better it is for the facility.

      Indoor pool facility attendance usually drops off in the summer months as lakes, rivers, the ocean and outdoor pools become a larger draw to the community.

      Routine maintenance is needed, and if there is already a shut diown schedules, take the 2 extra weeks and do what is needed to get done, in order to avoid an emergency and costly unexpected shut down at another time in the season when attendance is at it's peak.

      john smith

      Jun 22, 2012 at 9:51am

      Good grief, is that all Dr Perry has to do with his time? Maybe they should be glad they have a pool at all. In the meantime, there's always the beach twelve blocks away.
      Pools have very high maintenance requirements. If it has to go down for repairs, it's going down. Get a life

      Martin Dunphy

      Jun 22, 2012 at 1:36pm

      The point to be made is that for the people who use it just in the summer (kids filling vacation days, people beating the heat, etcetera), it is the same as closing it for a <em>year</em>. And for them, it will be <em>two</em> years (from the summer of 2011 to the summer of 2013) between usage.
      A winter closure would inconvenience far less those who use it year-round.
      It will have to be done anyhow, but why crap massively on those who use it just during the summer, when it is a mecca, a beacon, for those dog days?