'It's a mess': City of Richmond apologizes for delay of new pool opening due to unknown leak, cracks

Swimmers are going to have to wait even longer to dip their toes into Richmond's new $80-million pool facility as investigators work to figure out what caused a mysterious leak. 

The multi-pool facility at the Minoru Centre for Active Living was supposed to open in March, but the opening was delayed after crews discovered a leak and then cracks in the lap pool. 

Since then, investigators with a number of insurance companies have drained and ripped up the pool, and are writing a report of their findings to present to city council. 

The lap pool is now covered in a white construction tarp while the remaining pools sit empty.

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"Right now, it's a mess. There has been a lot of work going on to try and identify what the problem really is," said Clay Adams, director of communications for the City of Richmond. 

Adams said he hopes the report will be delivered in the next few weeks and apologized to Richmond residents for the delays. 

"To not have it able to be opened and just sitting here is frustrating. So we're sorry for that," Adams said.  

Still, it could be much longer before the issue, once identified, is fixed. 

"It's certainly not going to be open in three weeks … sadly, but we are aiming to get it done as soon as we can," he said. 

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Previous news releases issued by the city said the problem was ground shifting which is a notorious issue in Richmond. 

Brent Ward with Simon Fraser University's Centre for Natural Hazards Research said the ground is Richmond is comprised of water-filled sediments.

"So if you put a building on it, those  sediments will compact and the water will come out. So that's just a normal geologic process. but it causes damage to the building, or it can cause damage," Ward said. 

Adams said the cause is not so certain now. 

The facility was built on a concrete slab with a special layer of fill above it to account for the water table on which the city is built, creating "unique challenges," according to Adams.  

It's unclear what — or who — is to blame. 

"Was it a design issue? Was it a construction issue. Was it planning? These are the things that we're all going to need to find out," Adams said. 

So far, insurance is covering the extra costs associated with the problematic pool, so it's not expected to increase the cost of the facility, he said. 

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The remaining pools will be checked thoroughly for faults before opening. 

"It will be safe. We will not open any of the pools unless we know for certain that they are 100 per cent safe and there is absolutely no chance of a repeat failure that we had in this one lap pool," he said. 

In the meantime, residents still have access to the aging Minoru Aquatic Centre nearby.