Vancouver indoor swimming pools prepare to reopen as B.C. amateur sports enter Phase 3

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      With summer coming to an end next month, most opportunities to exercise outdoors will be over as well when Vancouver's infamous rainy season takes over.

      However, indoor exercise spaces have been progressively opening with COVID-19 health and safety measures in place. Among those options will soon be indoor pools in Vancouver. In additiona, amateur sport activities are entering a new stage of expansion across British Columbia.

      Here’s a look at what’s underway.

      Vancouver indoor pools to reopen

      When the Vancouver Park Board was announcing the reopening of community centres on August 10, recreation director Daisy Chin had explained that the park board was developing a phased-approach reopening plan for indoor pools, which have been closed during the pandemic since mid-March.

      As promised, the park board announced that will begin reopening eight out of nine indoor pools in mid-September.

      Four of them—Hillcrest, Kerrisdale, Britannia, and the Vancouver Aquatic Centre—are aiming to reopen on September 14, with the remainder—Killarney, Templeton, Lord Byng, and Renfrew—opening on October 13. (Dates are subject to change due to operational or maintenance reasons.)

      The exception is Kensington, which will remain closed, as the park board says that it is “too small to safely accommodate the physical distancing required for aquatic use during the pandemic”.

      Vancouver Park Board chair Camil Dumont explained that all pools can’t open at the same time because “it’s not possible from a facilities and maintenance perspective, as it’s a huge operational lift”.

      The facilities will follow safety protocols for indoor pools that are in line with Livesaving Society Canada guidelines and developed with WorkSafeBC.

      Admission to the pools, which will have reduced maximum capacities, will be done through an online reservation system and drop-ins, and will include designated lap and public swimming sessions, and reserved training sessions for sports organizations.

      Among the changes will be wider lanes for length swimming, directional signage, and access procedures for change rooms, pool decks, and entering and exiting pools.

      Although showers, change rooms, and lockers will be available, the number of people in change rooms will be limited. Between swim periods, facilities will be sanitized and prepared for the next group. Lifeguards will wear personal protective equipment and staff will conduct spot-cleaning on equipment, facilities, and high-touch areas. Snorkels won’t be allowed and swimming goggles, towels, and kickboards won’t be available for rental.

      Vancouver Park Board

      B.C. sports enter Phase 3

      The provincial government announced on August 24 that B.C. will enter the third stage of sports activities.

      The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has reviewed Phase 3 of the viaSport’s Return to Sports guidelines, which address how various sports can resume activities under health recommendations, including issues about contact activities, cohorts, competitions, high-performance training environments, and travel.

      In Phase 3, amateur sport activities will be able to start additional training opportunities, play modified games and matches, and engage in league play and competitions within sport cohorts.

      “While these guidelines offer key parameters for the increase in sport activity, each sport will advance at a different pace depending on community capacity and readiness,” viaSport chief executive officer Charlene Krepiakevich stated in a news release.

      Up to 60 sports organizations have now completed their return to play plans (there are 72 sports organizations in B.C.).

      B.C.’s Return to Sports guidelines were released in June.

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