Five indoor swimming pools in Vancouver could be decommissioned and replaced with new, consolidated facilities as part of an overhaul in the Vancouver Park Board’s aquatic recreational facilities strategy.
Monday evening, Park Board commissioners will review staff findings in its year-long ‘VanSplash’ review, which began last summer to address the City’s lack of swimming pools.
“Many of our current pools need to be renewed or replaced as they are nearing their end of life and there are some geographic gaps in our system,” said the Park Board in an email to Daily Hive.
“We have seen a shift towards increasing use of the newest indoor facilities at Hillcrest, Killarney, and Renfrew, while the remaining six older indoor facilities have seen a drop in use in recent years.”
“The emerging recommendations also seek to accommodate anticipated growth in the coming decades.”
There are just five public outdoor pools in Vancouver for a population of 620,000 people, fewer than other major Canadian cities. Calgary has eight outdoor pools, Ottawa has nine, Toronto has 57, and Montreal has 74.
These cities also have far more indoor pools than Vancouver, which only has nine public indoor pools compared to Calgary’s 14, Ottawa’s 21, Toronto’s 65, and Montreal’s 48.
Staff say the facilities at West Point Grey’s 1979-built Lord Byng Pool, which is attached to Lord Byng Secondary School, is nearing the end of its lifespan and will require replacement.
Instead of building a replacement swimming facility at the same location, the Park Board is contemplating a new ‘destination’ facility at Connaught Park, next to Kitsilano Secondary School and Kitsilano Community Centre and near the future Millennium Line station at the intersection of Arbutus Street and Broadway.
The new indoor facility could be built as part of a renewed community centre with a “minimal” reduction on the footprint of the park. Preliminary ideas revolve around building a new facility for leisure recreational usage, sport training, and competitions on the provincial and national level.
A larger replacement pool at Britannia Community Centre could replace the existing facilities at both Britannia and the nearby 1974-built Templeton Pool, which is near the end of its useful lifecycle.
Funding for the pool was approved under the municipal government’s last Capital Plan and has already been determined as part of the Britannia master plan process.
“At twice the capacity of Britannia or Templeton Pools, the new pool will accommodate existing users from both pools, as well as new users,” said the Park Board.
The Park Board has identified a need to replace Kerrisdale Pool, the oldest public swimming facility in Vancouver having turned 62 years old this year. A larger multi-tank facility is envisioned for the site.
And built in 1974, the Vancouver Aquatic Centre at Sunset Beach in downtown Vancouver’s West End neighbourhood could also be replaced. Staff are recommending its replacement be a large ‘destination’ facility with a focus on health and wellness.
Two new outdoor pools could be added to the city if the plan is approved.
The existing indoor facility at Killarney could receive an expansion to include an outdoor pool and hot tub, and a natural outdoor pool using plants instead of chlorine to maintain water quality is proposed for a site along the Fraser River.
Other recommendations by staff include the installation of new “temporary beaches” to “increase the equity of beach experience at key locations in the city,” improving the water quality in Trout Lake and False Creek so that both bodies of water can be suitable for swimming, and converting some wading pools at parks into spray parks.
Staff will also further study the idea of building a harbour deck in a popular swimming location on the waterfront and designating an area for wibits, which are large inflatable play structures that sit on water.
However, an idea last summer to consider a pop-up pool program that would quickly and affordably bring aquatic facilities to underserved neighbourhoods has since been deemed by staff as unfeasible.