The seasonal closure of the pool at Whitehorse’s Canada Games Centre will be longer than usual this year, but it will allow for refitting that hasn’t been done since the pool first opened more than 15 years ago.
The annual shuttering of the city’s only indoor pool is expected to begin Aug. 12 and run for seven weeks. In recent years, the closure has only been for about three weeks to allow for cleaning and maintenance but significantly more work will be done this year. At a June 28 briefing held in a room adjoining the pool, city staff explained that the tiling at the bottom of the aquatic centre’s main lap pool will be getting a full replacement during the closure.
“So this year, we will be draining the pool and pulling all the tile, scrapping all the tile, good or bad, we will be checking the bottom surface of the pool to make sure that it is fine. We did allow some time in there for if there’s some light cracks or some maintenance that has to be done to the concrete at the bottom of the pool,” city manager of property management Peter O’Blenes told reporters.
Along with replacement of the tiles, O’Blenes said a waterproof epoxy finish will be applied. It is expected to increase the lifespan of the replacement tiles. O’Blenes added that a similar finish is already in use in the retiled lazy river pool beside the existing lap pool and results have been good so far.
As the tiles that currently line the pool reach the end of their lifecycle, O’Blenes said the city is observing more and more of them breaking or coming loose each year. He said the full replacement is likely the most cost effective solution to the problem.
That cost is expected to be roughly $500,000. O’Blenes said the work would have come in over budget if retiling of the steam room was going to be done this year and so that is being put off at least until next year.
O’Blenes expects a 25-year lifespan for the new tiles.
Although this year’s major upgrades are limited to the lap pool dust from the retiling work requires the closure of the entire pool area. A major cleanup including all of the pool’s filters will follow the tile replacement work.
O’Blenes explained that the city tried to have this work done last summer but was not successful in finding a contractor who would take the job. No bids came in this year either, but O’Blenes said the city was able to secure the necessary tiles and the same local contractor who has done maintenance work at the pool will be doing the replacement tiling.
During the long closure of the pool, the city is pledging to do as much as it can to fill that niche for pool users.
“We realize that the pool is an important piece of our recreation for a lot of people in Whitehorse, especially those with mobility issues or recovering an injury or whatnot,” said city aquatics supervisor Karen Zaidan.
Zaidan said city recreation staff are working to support pool users with some on-land activities that can replace their regimen in the water. She offered the example of chair yoga, exercise machines that work the same muscles as swimming and the facility’s wellness centre. She said Games Centre staff are more than willing to help acquaint users with new areas and equipment they may not have used before. She noted that some of the lower-impact drop-in fitness programming may be labelled as seniors’ programming but is not only for seniors.
Members who only use the pool are also being offered the opportunity to temporarily suspend their memberships.
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