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A plan for opening the pool

By Chris Lewis | Aug. 20, 2020

The public pool in Long Pond has been the center of some discussion of late.

On July 15 the Town of Conception Bay South announced the recreation complex would remain closed in keeping with the numerous closures that came about following the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, those plans may be changing.

At last week’s council meeting, Mayor Terry French noted that he had received a number of phone calls and e-mails regarding the complex’s closure. He observed the pool is unique in that it’s a relatively smaller pool compared to those found in neighbouring municipalities.

Because of the size of the facility, the changing rooms too are fairly small, allowing for a maximum of six people in either room at one time. The pool itself is similar, with only enough space for 12 people.

But French cautioned it is not as simple as opening up the pool and just allowing 12 people in at a time.

“You get into the significant cleaning that needs to be done in between each turnover. It’s a whole new dynamic that the staff, and council, are trying to work with. We’re dealing with it as best we can,” French said.

The complex is home to more than just a pool. The local inclusive squash program has recently begun making use of the complex, and some fitness groups, and even birthday parties are held within the complex’s walls – a long list of which had to be cancelled, according to French.

“There are a lot of people displaced because we have that building closed, but we’re trying to work our way through it … Hopefully, we’ll have something positive to announce in the coming weeks,” the mayor said.

Under normal circumstances, the pool is closed for the summer for maintenance, reopening just after Labour Day. The possibility of meeting that deadline seems unlikely, but the town hopes it won’t take too much longer after that date.

It would be good news for the town’s synchronized swimming and competitive swimming teams.

“If you were practicing four to five times a week, you could very easily now be cut down to two or three times a week simply because there’s only so many people allowed in the pool and in the facility at any given time,” French said, noting the number of people allowed in a public place caps out at 50. With so many different groups wanting to make use of the recreation complex, he said it is likely that scheduling sacrifices will need to be made.

Of course, the complex also requires money to operate.

French noted the recreation complex is the most expensive facility in the town, with an approximate $400,000 being allotted each year.

“Early projections show that this facility could go from a $400,000 bill annually to $600,000 to $700,000 annually,” French said. “That’s something, obviously, we have to be conscious of. But, at the same time, we still want to provide that service to our residents. We just have to try and make it work. We need to make it work for the people using the facility, and the taxpayers in our town.”

French asked for patience as staff work out a way to reopen the complex.

The next bit of good news, he said, may come at the next committee of the whole meeting in September when staff bring forward a plan to see the facility re-opened in some capacity.

“Bear with us,” French said.

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