Kimberley City Council has decided that the Aquatic Centre shall remain closed, citing concerns regarding rising COVID-19 cases in B.C. and the layout of the facility not being suited to allow for adequate physical distancing.
“Until the Provincial Health Officer’s (PHO) orders change, the pool will remain closed,” the City said in a release issued Sept. 29.
The City detailed the PHO’s guidelines, set out in collaboration with viaSport BC and the Lifesaving Society, and why they feel they make the opening of the pool unfeasible at this time.
These guidelines substantially limit the number of people allowed in the Aquatic Centre at a time. They also require five square metres of space per person when out of the water, seven square metres when in the water, lobby, change rooms, shower facilities, pool deck and the pool itself. The city says that these guidelines within the facility make physical distancing extremely challenging.
Traditional swimming lessons, large-group programming, physiotherapy sessions and social swimming are all also not possible under current guidelines.
The City also mentions that children under 16 years old must be accompanied in the water by an adult — again not necessarily possible with current physical distancing rules in place.
The hot tub and steam room are also unable to open. Plus, every patron is required to shower before entering and after exiting the water.
“This makes session timing very difficult when factoring in the limited access to showers due to the five square meter per person requirement, cleaning time needed between sessions, and the line-ups anticipated.”
The City addressed residents who may have concerns about the amount of parcel tax they paid for the facility’s operating costs in 2020.
“Residents … can be assured that any operating surplus realized in relation to the facility closure will result in a corresponding reduction to the 2021 Aquatic Centre Parcel Tax levy,” read the release.
The City’s Facebook post regarding this matter gathered around 30 comments as of Monday, Sept. 30, with the majority, though not all, of the commenters expressing their support for Council’s decision and their efforts to try and keep the community safe.
“While City Council understands the physical and mental health benefits of swimming, they are not willing to put our most vulnerable populations at risk as cases rise in B.C.,” the release said. “The City looks forward to welcoming patrons back to the Aquatic Centre but have decided to prioritize the safety of our community at this point.”
The release assured residents that City staff will be continually monitoring conditions and public health regulations to determine when they can safely reopen the Aquatic Centre. Updates will be provided as more information becomes available.