Kimberley Aquatic Centre Closure to Continue
The Kimberley Aquatic Centre will remain closed for the foreseeable future - or at least until the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) and provincial sporting agencies change the many guidelines and limitations to re-opening that are outlined in their return to sport documents. City staff will continue to monitor their direction and update the public again in late September.
Staff have reviewed the guidelines set by viaSport BC, a not-for-profit organization created with support of the Province, as well as direction provided by the Lifesaving Society of BC and the British Columbia Recreation and Parks Association (BCRPA). While the pool itself is considered low-risk for transmission of COVID-19, other areas of the facility are not.
The narrow lobby, hallways and change rooms make enforcement of 2-metre physical distancing next to impossible. viaSport guidelines state that individuals must have at least 5-meters of ‘unencumbered’ floor space per person meaning 5-meters of open space when out of the pool. It further recommends at least 7-meters of space per person when in the water. This limitation drastically limits the number of patrons in any given area of the facility, which already requires 7-10 staff on-site when open. The guidelines also recommend prohibiting drop-in programs as physical distancing is very difficult with this type of programming.
A further recommendation that patrons utilize one door for entry and an alternate door for exiting the facility isn’t possible at the Aquatic Centre. viaSport also mandates the closure of the hot tub and steam room as these areas are unable to accommodate physical distancing. Even after the Aquatic Centre re-opens, the hot tub and steam room will likely remain closed due to the increased risk of infection.
“This is a tough decision for us and one we know residents are passionate about. As cases rise in our province, Council is supportive of keeping the Aquatic Centre closed until it is safe to re-open,” says Scott Sommerville, Chief Administrative Officer. “We are not willing to put our staff at risk of contracting COVID-19, including lifeguards who potentially have to have physical contact with patrons in the event of an emergency. We will continue to review the situation to determine if the PHO has made any changes to orders or updates to the sporting bodies’ recommendations. Staff and patron safety is our number one priority and if their safety means we go a little longer without the pool operating, then that is what we have to do. We aren’t taking any chances with public health.”
On March 17th, 2020, the Aquatic Centre and other City facilities were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While outdoor spaces have re-opened with increased safety measures in place, most indoor facilities remain closed. The City will continue to inform the public as updates become available.