Mechanical issues and flooding in an underground vault have forced the closure of Canada Games Pool – and it’s still a bit murky when it will reopen.
The City of New Westminster took to social media earlier this week to say the pool would be closed for the remainder of the week, and potentially longer.
“We certainly appreciate the patience and understanding from those that have been directly impacted by this,” said Dean Gibson, the city’s director of parks and recreation. “We are doing our absolute best that we can, with all the people that can bring their expertise and knowledge to the project itself, to get this resolved and put back on track. We fully appreciate this is our only aquatic venue in the community, so when it’s closed that option isn’t readily available or our residents. We want to be back in operation as much as any resident in our community does.”
According to Gibson, the issue at Canada Games Pool is associated with construction activities for the new aquatic and community centre. He said construction of the new facility required many of the utility services that run under the old pool and the community centre to be relocated, including drainage for stormwater and sanitary water.
“In that part of town it’s a combined system, so it’s one big pipe; essentially the pipe that collects both rainwater that comes off those roofs of buildings and parking lots and surfaces, and also the sewer that drains from the washrooms and things within the pool itself, all feed into one pipe,” he said. “And that pipe had to be relocated as a result of the construction of the pool. That work was done in the spring.”
Gibson said recent rain events have resulted in peak amounts of stormwater flowing into that system.
“What has become apparent to us is that system is not able to handle the volume of water that is going through it,” he said. “As a result, water is backing up into a vault that’s located below grade, below the ground level.”
That vault, said Gibson, contains three electric motors that turn pumps, including one pump that circulates the water for the pool. Another pump circulates hot water throughout the facility, including the pool, the showers and sinks, while a third aquatic pump is used for “vacuuming out the pool” as part of its regular cleaning.
Gibson said the stormwater from outside the building has backed up in the vault, causing those motors to be inoperable.
“Without the ability to operate those three key pumps in the building itself, we have had to close the facility,” he explained.
Gibson said the first flooding incident occurred earlier in September, when the city had to delay the reopening of the pool’s regular maintenance shutdown by a couple of days. At that time, he said the city and the contractor “didn’t have enough pieces of the puzzle” to be able to determine of the source of the flooding.
Recent heavy rainfalls resulted in flooding in the vault that required the facility to be closed.
Gibson said the team working on the issue has now determined the source of the flooding and what needs to be done to resolve the situation.
“We are on a trajectory for getting this thing solved in a permanent fashion,” he told the Record late Friday afternoon.
When that will happen, however, remains to be seen. The city expects to be in a position to provide more details next week.
Gibson said the city is now in the process of sourcing out the equipment that’s needed to upgrade the capacity of the drain system. He said the staff needed to do the work is available, but the equipment needed has to be arranged.
“If we find that it is an item that has to come from outside of the Lower Mainland or outside of the province, then we need to allow for those times,” he said. “And we just haven’t gotten to the point of being able to source all of that stuff yet.”