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Future of Canada Games Pool in New West remains uncertain as it springs a leak

Pool will be closed until early 2022 - at least
A leak in the main pool tank is the latest hurdle in allowing New Westminster's only indoor swimming pool to reopen. File

The situation at New Westminster’s lone indoor swimming pool has gone from bad to worse – and the facility’s future is uncertain.

Canada Games Pool will be closed until at least early 2022 after the discovery of a leak in the pool’s main tank. That comes on the heels of mechanical issues that prompted the closure of the pool in late September.

Dean Gibson, the city’s director of parks and recreation, said the city’s current priority is determining the cause of the leak and the options for repairing the leak.

“When have those two pieces of information, we will be able to talk to city council about a decision-making path, if you will, as to how we are to best proceed,” he said.

Gibson said the city was on a path to repairing mechanical systems when a leak was discovered in the main pool tank. A team of experts is now trying to identify the source of the leak.

“That work is ongoing. Part of that will include developing a series of options for what it may take to actually address that leak situation,” he said. “Obviously, if we have water leaking from the pool, we can’t be using it for public purposes, simply because we are having to continually top it up and we don’t have the mechanical systems in place yet to be able to treat, heat and circulate the water.”

Asked whether Canada Games Pool would reopen, Gibson said it’s too early to say because the city is still gathering information about the source of the leak.

“I think it is fair to say though that in the assessment of what we would refer to as the ‘feasibility of repairs’ one would look at the potential solutions and associated costs are and then look at that in the context of the fact that the pool is intended to be operational for the next two years, until the new təməsew̓txʷ facility opens,” he told the Record. “There’s likely a cost-benefit discussion to be held once we have the facts that will help inform decisions about reopening the pool or looking at other options.”

Construction of the new təməsew̓txʷ Aquatic and Community Centre is taking place on the site next to Canada Games Pool. The new facility isn’t expected to open until late 2023.

Gibson said it’s unknown whether the construction activity on the adjacent could have caused the issues in the Canada Games Pool tank.

“Our assessment of the situation right now is looking at all potential contributing factors,” he said. “It would only be speculation on my part if there is a relationship between what’s happening in the Canada Games Pool and the construction next door.”

Gibson said pile driving has not taken place at the təməsew̓txʷ Aquatic and Community Centre construction site, but a process called “stonepile columns” has been used to stabilize the soil on the site.

Until the discovery of the leak in the pool tank, Gibson said work was progressing on making repairs to the mechanical systems.

In September, heavy rains revealed a deficiency in the drainage system that collects roof, surface, ground, pool discharge, and sanitary water for the Canada Games Pool site. This deficiency caused flooding in critical mechanical areas of the pool, disabling electric motors that circulate, treat and clean the pool water and circulate domestic hot water throughout the building.

“That work was progressing. At the point that this leak issue presented itself, the immediacy of dealing with the flooding issue was slowed just a little bit while we tried to catch up in addressing the leak issue,” Gibson said. “All of that is still to be resolved, but what we do, unfortunately, have a level of confidence in, is to address the leak situation we will not be able to be in operation until early in 2022, simply because of the likelihood of a long repair process, if it is even determined it is feasible to undertake repairs to the pool.”

Gibson said the city hopes to have some clarity about the leak and the repairs needed within a few weeks. He said there was no sign of a leak when the pool was closed for its annual maintenance work in September.

“If there was a leak that had been occurring, we would have likely noticed it at that particular point. It was just at the tail end of the maintenance shutdown that the issue with flooding, unfortunately, occurred,” he said. “Then the continuation of that saga has rolled into the discovery of a leak, and we find ourselves where we are today, with a high degree of uncertainty around what the next steps are going to be in terms of the continuation of services of that site.”

For now, the city is encouraging the public to using alternate fitness facilities at venues including the Queensborough Community Centre and the New West Youth Centre. Centennial Community Centre has not been impacted by the issues at Canada Games Pool.

“We recognize that the closure of the pool at any period of time, never mind in the middle of winter and for many successive months, has a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of individuals, families and community organizations in the city,” Gibson said.

Staff will be providing council with a report about the status of the Canada Games Pool at its Nov. 1 meeting.

Follow Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus