After a long closure and missed deadlines, town says Inuvik pool will reopen this fall

·3 min read
Grand Hood, senior administrative officer for the Town of Inuvik. Hood said finding the root cause of problems with the pool 'was like a constant battle.' (Karli Zschogner/CBC - image credit)
Grand Hood, senior administrative officer for the Town of Inuvik. Hood said finding the root cause of problems with the pool 'was like a constant battle.' (Karli Zschogner/CBC - image credit)

After myriad problems and nearly three years, the pool in Inuvik, N.W.T., is just about ready to reopen its doors.

The pool at the community's Midnight Sun Recreation Complex was closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic and because it needed repairs, said Inuvik's senior administrative officer Grant Hood.

But the problems began before that.

The pool was also shut down in 2018 for about eight months because of leaks possibly caused by thawing permafrost that led to shifting ground.

Hood said finding the cause of the issue "was like a constant battle."

He said a portion of the pool seemed to have partially sunk. Engineers were brought in to assess the problem.

Because the pool was already closed due to the pandemic, Hood said the decision was made to do a "full rehabilitation," including changing the pool liner, which was at the end of its useful life.

Engineers also assessed whether the leaking had caused any further damage, for example, to the foundation of the pool.

"We've been assured that that's not the case."

Funding delays, supply chain issues

Hood said the problems were in the pool's pipes, which were buried below concrete. The pipes have since been made more accessible in case future repairs are needed.

The lengthy process to get the pool operational again was further delayed while the town waited for funding to come through, and later, by supply chain issues, Hood said.

Tyanna Bain/CBC
Tyanna Bain/CBC

In May 2021, the federal government provided $750,000 to help complete repair work. The total costs for the repairs is $975,000, Hood said.

While some of the major fixes are mostly complete, there are a few more hurdles before the pool can open, like testing the plumbing's pressure.

Hood said Friday the plan is to start filling the pool next week, depending on the pump inspections, and there is another area that  needs to be sealed, which wasn't included in the original plan. After that, he'll still need a green light from environmental health inspectors.

Next up is staffing. Hood said the town has just about finalized hiring an aquatic supervisor.

"Which has been a very long process," Hood said. "We've been looking for one for almost a year and a half."

Once that person arrives and the pool is approved for operation, lifeguard training will start.

On a positive note, Hood said he has a "very good list" of interested people.

'We're very, very close'

Meanwhile, residents are awaiting the big day.

Luisa Ospina has been living in Inuvik for three years now, and has yet to use the pool.

Karli Zschogner/CBC
Karli Zschogner/CBC

"I keep buying new bathing suits whenever they hope that it's going to open," Ospina said,

Ospina said the pool is a positive feature for the community — when it's open — as a safe place for people of all ages, especially in the winter.

"It would be great to have like a definite date on the project," she said. "I feel like we're losing hope [of] actually having a pool in town, which is a shame because I know a lot of the youth and the kids and the adults as well could take advantage of that service."

Though the town has passed a few deadlines for the pool's reopening already, Hood said right now, "we're very, very close."

"I think everybody is quite anxious to move on and actually have people in here and not construction people."