Opening Centennial Pool in early May – as requested by a local swim club – is not practical, according to city staff.
Ross Milnthorp, the city’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture, said that opening the pool nearly a month early poses too many challenges.
He said the main problem is that the city has to begin the start up process for the outdoor pool one month prior to its opening. That would mean starting in April when the weather is not conducive to the kind of work that needs to be done to get the pool ready.
“Painting outdoors when the daily low temperature is averaging 2-5 C is not recommended and would require erecting scaffolding and a cover system with heating to undertake a complex winter season paint job,” Milnthorp said.
“The type of paint used to seal the basins requires specific weather conditions. These conditions are not typically found in April.”
Milnthorp also advised against filling the pool when the temperature can drop below freezing.
“Our costs to heat the pool to even a minimum level in these conditions could possibly be well in excess of $10,000 for the extra month alone,” he added.
The city was asked by the Campbell River Salmon Kings to consider opening the pool in early May in order to have more consistency around start-up dates.
Tim Defert, president of the Salmon Kings, wrote a letter to council earlier this month and said that with the pool not opening until late May or early-to-mid-June, the club is forced to accept “limited and inconvenient swim lane times at Strathcona Gardens” in order to get practices in and stay competitive.
He said the lack of consistent practice times “puts our club at a distinct disadvantage” and he suggested that not just the Salmon Kings, but also the Strathcona Triathlon Club, School District 72 and the Campbell River Killer Whales swim program could all benefit from extra pool time at Centennial Pool.
Milnthorp, though, said city staff contacted School District 72 and “there was limited interest in using the pool in May.”
He also pointed out that many of the start-up tasks are done by lifeguard staff, and the majority are students who would not typically be available for work in April.
Milnthorp said that overall, if the city were able to recruit staff, total costs to extend the pool operating season and open May 1, related to weather, are estimated at between $50,000 to $80,000, which would include the purchase of a thermal cover to reduce overnight heat loss.
“The cost of a cover, including storage system, has previously been estimated at $30,000,” Milnthorp said.
“Such a cover would help to reduce the gas consumption at the pool for the entire operating season.”
Council, at last week’s Monday meeting, took Milnthorp’s suggestions under advisement and will wait until budget deliberations get underway next week to make a decision on the pool opening.