All but one of Vancouver's public, indoor pools are slated to reopen this fall after months being closed due to measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.
In a statement Friday, the Vancouver Park Board announced the planned reopening of eight of its nine pools, as well as new safety and cleaning protocols to protect swimmers. Closed since March, four pools will reopen in mid-September and another four one month later.
Kensington Pool will not reopen, because the city says the facility is too small to accommodate physical distancing measures.
"The reopening of our indoor pools marks a huge milestone for the park board's pandemic recovery plan," Camil Dumont, chair of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, said in a statement.
"While it would be amazing to be able to open all eight pools at once, it's not possible from a facilities and maintenance perspective, as it's a huge operational lift."
Reopening Sept. 14
- Vancouver Aquatic Centre
Reopening Oct. 13
- Lord Byng
Swimmers can expect wider pool lanes, arrows directing traffic and new procedures for accessing change rooms and other amenities. Snorkels won't be allowed in the pool, nor will patrons be allowed to rent goggles, towels or kickboards. Facilities will also enforce a limit on the number of people who can be in the pool or the change rooms at one time.
The park board also said it would implement several new cleaning procedures, including sanitizing the pool between swimming groups. Lifeguards will don personal protective equipment (PPE) while on shift.
Those interested in hopping in the pool this fall can either reserve a spot online or drop in. But competition might be fierce. After the park board reopened outdoor pools in July, the rush for spaces crashed the online booking system.
Swim club awaits details
Jeannie Lo, president of the Canadian Dolphins Swim Club, was "absolutely ecstatic" to see Friday's announcement.
The closure of pools in the spring forced the Vancouver-based swimming club to dramatically curtail programs for its roughly 270 members and even led to dry-land training sessions over Zoom.
"It's been very hard for the swimmers," Lo said. "There has been a psychological toll."
After outdoor pools reopened in July, the club hoped to arrange pool rentals, but the city said it couldn't accommodate swim clubs.
The Dolphins have instead been renting the pool at the Jewish Community Centre, but the small facility only has enough space for about 30 of its members. Some of the club's older, competitive swimmers have gone from training 25 hours per week to less than five hours per week, Lo added.
She said the club would like to resume its rental arrangement at the Vancouver Aquatic Centre but is unsure how that will look. Lo hopes the city prioritizes Vancouver-based clubs and those with a rental history.
"All of these swim clubs, we're desperate to get back," said Lo. "It will be a little bit of a bun fight for space."