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What caused the sudden closure of Canada Games Pool in New West?

How much will the public learn about Canada Games Pool's sudden closure? That's yet to be determined
The old Canada Games Pool was demolished earlier than expected on the site next to the new aquatic and community centre that's under construction.

It remains to be seen how much the public learns about factors contributing to the sudden closure of Canada Games Pool.

Canada Games Pool closed in September 2021 after heavy rains caused flooding in the facility’s mechanical room. While undertaking work to resolve the flooding issue, the city discovered a leak in the pool’s main tank.

In November 2021, the City of New Westminster announced it had made “the difficult decision” to decommission Canada Games Pool effective immediately. It cited the significant costs, extensive work required, associated risks, and an estimated timeline of approximately eight months to complete repairs as reasons for its decision.

 “The cause of the leak to the pool tank continues to be thoroughly investigated and the City of New Westminster is committed to doing its due diligence and will report back findings to the community once there is more information,” said a Nov. 24, 2021 press release from the city.

On Monday, city council received a update about the təməsew̓txʷ Aquatic and Community Centre project, which is being built on the site adjacent to the Canada Games Pool site.

Coun. Daniel Fontaine said there was a lot of discussion in the media and among council members and the public about the cause of the issues that caused the pool to close.

“Is there any way for the public to understand what actually happened?” he said. “Is there an update that we can provide in council, around providing some certainty and understanding as to why so many kids lost their indoor pool way too early?”

Canada Games Pool had originally been slate to remain operational until the new təməsew̓txʷ Aquatic and Community Centre opened. (The new facility was originally expected to open in October 2023, but the opening is now planned for February 2024.)

Tobi May, the city’s manager of civic buildings and properties, said that when announcing the decision to close the pool permanently in November 2021, staff committed to completing an investigation into what caused the closure of Canada Games Pool.

“We're still working on that, and we expect to have results fairly soon,” she said.

Fontaine questioned whether that report would be made public so community members can understand all the circumstances that led to the premature closure of Canada Games Pool.

“My understanding is that it's at council's discretion to release that report,” May said.

Lisa Spitale, the city’s chief administrative officer, said in general, based on transparency, the city likes to report on issues publicly.

“But we weigh that, at the time, with other corporate considerations,” she said. “So, would we respond with some information? Yes, we have the duty to provide the community with information.”

Until the city is able to undertake a “fulsome analysis” of the findings, Spitale could not say what information would be available to the public.

In February 2022, hundreds of people turned out to a celebration to say farewell to Canada Games Pool. The facility officially opened on March 9, 1973, after the city received federal funding as part of its decision to co-host the Canada Summer Games with Burnaby.