Inuvik pool reopening pushed back to March

·3 min read
After some delays in securing funding from the federal government’s Investing in Canada infrastructure program, the town needed to wait on the approval from the environmental health officer. Both of these delayed the start of construction and meant the pool would not be finished until February. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC  - image credit)
After some delays in securing funding from the federal government’s Investing in Canada infrastructure program, the town needed to wait on the approval from the environmental health officer. Both of these delayed the start of construction and meant the pool would not be finished until February. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC - image credit)

The reopening of the pool at Inuvik's Midnight Sun Complex is being delayed yet again, this time until March 2022.

The town's director of community services, Lise Saumur, said many issues are causing the latest delay.

"Our timeline has shifted greatly over the last two years because there's always one thing comes after another," she said.

"It's been a while, but hopefully there's light at the end of our tunnel."

The pool was shut down in 2018 for about eight months because of leaks caused by the ground shifting. It closed again in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and hasn't reopened since because the town discovered issues with the pool's pipes and decided to replace them.

The reopening was delayed twice as the town waited on funding to begin work replacing the pool's liner and plumbing.

After those delays, the town needed to wait on the approval from the environmental health officer.

"It's like many things when you go to alter something, if a code has changed since it was built, it's ok if you don't do anything to it but as soon as you go to change something … you then have to bring it up to code," said Inuvik's senior administrative officer, Grant Hood.

"Because of raising the walls and things like that, environmental health had to get involved."

Repairs started

While the town was waiting for the funding and approvals, the construction firm it hired to work on the upgrades was able to ship the materials needed to Inuvik and avoid more delays.

Construction on the pool started in December and crews have just gone home for a break.

New inlets, drain covers and skimmers have been installed and some preparation work to raise the wall and put in the new pool liner has also been done.

Crews will return in January to install the plumbing and replace the pool liner.

Hood expects the construction portion to finish up at the end of January or early February, then the town will need to do testing to make sure there are no leaks.

After the upgrades are complete, Hood said the pool should last another 20 to 30 years, with the liner needing to be replaced after 15 years.

Mackenzie Scott/CBC
Mackenzie Scott/CBC

The estimate for the pool renovation is around $800,000.

"We're getting 75 per cent of that up to a maximum of whatever's 75 per cent of $800,000. So if it goes over $800,000, we have to use gas tax funding or just internal funding if we happen to find it," said Hood.

New pool staff

Saumur's next challenge will be to find and certify new staff to replace those that left two years ago.

There is currently a job competition out for an aquatic supervisor who will be hired at the end of January.

Saumur hopes they will be able to complete some of the training the new lifeguards will need, but will also ask Alberta or Yellowknife for help.

"The first priority will be [to get our existing staff] recertified and that will be a shorter process. So if we can get them recertified and on deck, we may be able to open up with a piecemeal schedule until we get a core of staff."

Scheduled programming like swim lessons or aquafit classes will have to wait until there is more staff and instructors.

Saumur said they will also have to navigate the COVID-19 restrictions and adjust their way of training and providing lessons.

"I'm fortunate in that respect in that I'll be able to get a lot of information from [Yellowknife and Hay River] on their COVID[-19] operations."

Ultimately, Hood just wants to see the pool open again and have Inuvik residents back in the water.

"Everybody, including us, are looking forward to getting it back up and running. We know what an important feature it is in the town."

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