Aldergrove’s pools and hot tub reopened to swimmers last week – some of whom had been begging for its return in the five months since the COVID-19 shuttered Langley Township facilities in mid-March –including Aldergrove Credit Union Community Centre.
Re-opening was a challenging prospect, according to Township staff, who were concerned about a financial deficit that could grow if the pool re-opened during the pandemic.
“The pool is most expensive with overall staffing costs,” Township administrator Mark Bakken explained to mayor and council during a late July council meeting.
But to many Aldergrove taxpayers, the Township’s estimated cost of $250,000 for the ACUCC pool to be open until the end of 2020 was worth the price if they could once again go for a swim.
Some of the costly COVID-19 changes include limiting swimmers to 40 to comply with current provincial health guidelines and closing pool areas between each 90-minute session to sanitize and clean before the next.
“If we remain closed, very limited expenses will be incurred,” Bakken said.
But Township council voted for re-opening.
Aldergrove resident Barry Smith, 68, hit the pool the first four mornings after reopening.
“For a senior like me, using the pool every morning is critical,” he said. “It provides relief for the pain in my spine and neck.”
Daily aquatics is such an important part of Smith’s life that a month ago, he and another senior swimmer visited Township Mayor Jack Froese in an effort to persuade him to re-open the Aldergrove pool.
“We waited with bated breath,” the senior recalled.
Formerly a Murrayville resident, Smith was part of a community of 30 or more seniors who swam every morning at W.C. Blair pool to maintain their level of fitness and soothe their aches.
“I find it a godsend,” he said about the 22 years of low-impact workouts Township’s pools have offered.
Even though there were no clear lanes designated for guests to swim laps, Smith found a deep-end corner of the ACUCC’s 25-metre pool where he got some steps in.
What presented a struggle for the senior was his inability to use a senior recreation pass he bought to cover the cost of the swim sessions.
“It is hard to take with no income,” Smith explained, as what normally costs around $1.50 per swim (with a monthly recreation pass) is currently more than $4 each use.
“That’s more than double the cost,” he added.
Another COVID-19 safety measure at the newly reopened Otter Co-op Outdoor Experience included the shuttering of change rooms and lockers.
Aldergrove pool guests had to come swim ready, in bathing suits, with towels in-hand, and were encouraged to leave their valuables at home before partaking in the pool.
Swimmers were instructed by pool staff to keep a two-metre distance from other users and refrain from touching their eyes or face.
Aldergrove resident Ariane Marcotte, who also took a dip in the pool, found the Township’s new social distancing procedures at the pools “well organized.”
Local volunteer, Brit Gardner, spoke on behalf of others in the community, when she said: “We are pleased our voices have been heard and the outdoor pool has been re-opened.”
“We hope these precautions will allow for wider access to public recreation in the near future,” she concluded.
Cool off with an afternoon, or evening swim this week at the Otter Co-op Outdoor Experience at Aldergrove Credit Union…