The city is working around competitive swimming as it plans for impacts of the $13.5-million Canada Games Aquatic Centre maintenance project, which will begin at the end of June.
The project will shutter the busy city facility for six months, though the adjacent Tournament Capital Centre will remain open.
“The most important thing was to make sure an athlete that’s on the journey, as far as going to the Canada Games or the Olympics or whatever, has a place to go,” City of Kamloops community and protective services director Byron McCorkell told KTW. “We’ve accommodated that. They can still go and compete wherever.”
McCorkell explained that the construction project was timed around competitive swimming.
The day after the final swim meet in late June, the city will close all aquatic amenities — the Canada Games Pool, kids’ wading pool and waterslide — to complete the six-month construction project.
The project includes replacing the building envelope, mechanical, electrical and HVAC systems, lighting, boilers, hot tub, sauna and steam room, east entrance, change rooms and installation of a public address system for communications.
For competitive swimmers who need water for training throughout the duration of the six-month project, the outdoor Brock Pool will be utilized in the summer and the indoor Westsyde Pool will be used during winter months, McCorkell said.
Fitness swimmers will be facilitated at both Westsyde and Brock pools in the summer.
Asked if there is capacity to take on swimmers, McCorkell said there is “lots.”
The Westsyde Pool sees about 1,000 people per week, he said, with most attendees utilizing the fitness centre, not the pool.
The city said user groups will be accommodated.
“It shouldn’t be a loss in ability to swim,” McCorkell said. “It’s just not a 50-metre tank. It’s just going to be a little more jammed up.”
Usage times may also differ from what swimmers have become accustomed.
As for city staff who would have been taking care of the Canada Games Aquatic Centre, the city said staffing levels are not expected to be significantly impacted.
Maintenance staff will continue to work throughout the duration of the project.
Lifeguards who would have otherwise worked deckside at the Canada Games Pool will be added to the roster to accommodate busier crowds in Westsyde and Brocklehurst.
At any given time, the city has between 50 and 60 lifeguards on a roster caring for Riverside Park, the Canada Games Aquatic Centre, Westsyde Pool and Fitness Centre and/or Brock Pool.
Nine lifeguards are full-time, while the rest are part-time. Many are seasonal.
“I’m not going to say there won’t be any impact,” McCorkell said. “But it’s not that a whole team of people don’t have work anymore.”
Though the city had previously floated ideas to expand the Canada Games Aquatic Centre, such as adding a dive tank, warm-up pool and/or wave pool, it has opted at this time to focus on necessary renovations.
McCorkell told KTW the maintenance project does not include those extras because the city has to focus on its budget.
However, the ideas could possibly resurface in a project down the road, he said, citing the city’s inability to host significant swimming events without such infrastructure in place.