Renovated Westsyde Pool popular with guests, fate still uncertain

The new and improved version of Westsyde pool is proving popular with swimmers, but Kamloops city council still has to decide whether to spend more cash to keep the facility running.

Three of this year's 13 supplemental budget items are directly related to the pool, which reopened in September after it was closed for more than two years due to a compromised moisture barrier which rotted its ceiling from the inside.

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The city spent $3 million replacing the roof and rebuilding the pool enclosure, but has not yet upgraded the pool's aging boilers and other mechanical equipment, which are also near the end of their lifespan.

Then-mayor Peter Milobar told KTW the city would wait and see if the pool received enough visitors to mandate the repairs, or the building could become a community gymnasium.

Parks and civic facilities manager Jeff Putnam said staff are looking for $50,000 from council, which will fund a study of the pool's mechanical system, looking for ways to replace it that are more energy efficient.

The report would be ready by the middle of next year, at which point councillors would have to decide whether to move ahead with the retrofit, estimated at $1.2 million.

Putnam said they'll also be given the option to add solar panels to the pool roof, at a cost of about $100,000.

"We wanted to see the pool being used by the community, no question about that," Putnam said. "I think when we come back to council with this in 2018, I think there'll have been enough time passed to give council some direction on what their future goal is for that facility."

So far, usage levels appear promising, said Heidi Ogilvie, aquatics supervisor for the city.

"It's quite nice when you walk out onto that pool deck and see people of all ages enjoying that facility," she said.

Since its reopening in September, the pool and fitness centre have seen about a 40 per cent increase in daily use, from about 100 visitors per day to about 140.

The city is also seeing nearly 100 per cent attendance in swim lessons and aquatic fitness programs are "just bursting at the seams," Ogilvie said.

Part of the reason for the increase is the pool's extended hours -- 19 and a half more per-week than were offered at the facility before its renovation.

Maintaining those hours is another supplemental item for council to consider with an cost of about $125,500 in staff wages.

The pool is now open 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and again from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. during the week, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.

The hours have also allowed staff to offer swimming lessons on Sundays at the pool for the first time, which has proved popular, Ogilvie said.

"We want to make sure we get to keep what we have now, and then perhaps we need to look to the future and see what we can do to shuffle things around," said Ogilvie, adding she's also been hearing requests from the community for more mid-day hours.

Council is also being asked for $35,000 to maintain the building's fitness centre.

© Kamloops This Week


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