Monday, March 18, 2024

A Tale Of Two Cities/Pools


Between the slowly deteriorating Vancouver Aquatic Centre and the rapidly deteriorating Kits Pool, residents of the Westside might be wondering where they are going to be able to go for a swim in the near future. The Aquatic Centre was recently partially closed for roof repairs after a power washing of the moss (that appears to be holding the facility together) caused pieces to fall off inside. This was only a year or so after the front of the building fell off thanks to a rusted out frame. Meanwhile over at Kits Pool the cumulative damage of winter storms and high tides have destroyed the seawall around the pool and cracked the deck to the extent that it is leaking 30,000 litres per hour.

In spite of an architectual firm being hired to design a new Aquatic Centre and money raised to pay for its construction there is still no information as to where or when it will be constructed, never mind if it will get built before the old facility collapses. As far as Kits Pool goes there is no plan or budget whatsoever for its repair or replacement. Is it any wonder the public is fed up with the Parks Board?

Hopefully by selecting the same firm UBC used to redesign their swimming facility we might end up with something that takes advantage of the stunning oceanside location and makes use of glass and light instead of the brutalist bunker style design we've had to put up with for the past 50 years.

While there is hope the new Aquatic Centre may be built in the next 5-10 years, sadly there is no timeline for Kits Pool. For anyone wanting an outdoor, next to the ocean, swimming experience the only other pool is at 2nd Beach. Built in 1996 the public is still waiting 28 years later for the changing facilities, washrooms, and showers that have been promised and not built. Yet another example of Parks Board incompetence.

There is however another possible solution for combining an indoor and outdoor experience and for that we could look at what Paris has done in time for the 2024 Olympics. Here they have taken a 100 year old facility (built for the 1924 Olympics) and completely renovated it with a retractable roof. Swimmers have the best of both worlds (indoor and outdoor) and 90% of the construction waste will be reused or recycled.

A little wit and imagination can go a long way in solving problems if there is a will to look at options and take a lead in addressing issues instead of ignoring them until everything falls apart. Swimming pools are a vital component of city life and we need to demand more from our elected officials in how they are designed and maintained. Getting rid of the Parks Board is a start.