New West is prepared to tweak its outdoor pool plans once the swim season gets underway.
Staff recently updated council on plans for this year’s extended season at New Westminster’s two outdoor pools. Moody Park Outdoor Pool will open from April 22 to Oct. 1, while Hume Park Outdoor Pool will open from May 30 to Oct. 1.
In response to feedback from pool users, the city is adopting a “hybrid approach” that includes continuing on with a reserved system for people wanting a guaranteed swimming spot, but setting aside 20 per cent of swim spaces for drop-in visitors. (Last year, all spots had to be reserved ahead of time).
Coun. Daniel Fontaine said he’s heard from a lot of parents who say this reservation system removes the spontaneity of parents being able to bring their kids to the pool unless they’ve made a plan to go swimming.
Corrinne Garrett, the city’s senior manager of recreation services and facilities, said 65 per cent of the people who took part in the city’s public engagement process about the pools said they preferred having a reserved system, so they could register in advance and know when their family was going to the facility.
“It got rid of the queues or the lineups outside of the gate in 32-degree weather, not knowing whether or not you have to wait an hour, an hour-and-a-half or two hours to get into the next swim session,” she said. “So there was a lot of back and forth in regards to the numbers, and to take patron safety into mind, as well as knowing that we were still bound by capacities to a full complement of staff."
Ideally, the city wants to get back to a place where the pool is once again solely drop-in, Garrett added.
Dean Gibson, the city’s director of parks and recreation, said the 80/20 split was based on feedback received through formal surveys and from speaking with customers at the pools last summer.
"We can adjust and modify as we go along," he said. "Because that system is very much sort of an in-the-background type of a system. So we'll certainly take the feedback, and if it's appropriate, we'll certainly respond to that in the course of the summer season."
Coun. Tasha Henderson thanked staff for working to find the right balance of reserved and drop-in spaces.
“What I'm hearing from the parent community – and maybe I'll just say the moms community because that's who I'm most tapped in with – is the registration versus drop-in is like the cilantro of issues. And people feel very strongly either way,” she said. “There's really not very many people who sit in the middle. And so there were people waiting with bated breath to see how the results of this engagement would come out. And I'm just so pleased that you have found a way to balance that approach and allow for both types of folks. And it feels like an equitable way to move forward."