Swimmers in Kimberley will have to look for different locations for the rest of the summer, as the City said its Aquatic Centre will remain closed for the foreseeable future.
Kimberley said it reviewed guidelines set out by viaSport, Lifesaving Society of BC and the British Columbia Recreation and Parks Association, and decided that the pool will remain closed until restrictions are eased.
While the pool itself is considered a low-risk area for COVID-19 transmission, other areas of the facility are not.
The Centre’s narrow hallways and lobby make it difficult to adhere to physical distancing guidelines, as well as guidelines from viaSport. The non-profit’s guidelines state that people must have five meters of open space outside of the pool, with at least seven meters of space per person while 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,” said the City of Kimberley.
The City added that a further recommendation that patrons only use one door for entry and another for exit is impossible for the Aquatic Centre. On top of that, viaSport requires hot tubs and steam rooms to be closed, as those areas cannot accommodate physical distancing.
Even after the Aquatic Centre eventually re-opens, its 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,” said 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.”
Kimberley said its Aquatic Centre and other facilities have been closed since March 17th due to the pandemic.