The City of Kimberley has announced that the Aquatic Centre will remain closed indefinitely, or at least until the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) and the provincial sporting agencies change the guidelines and limitations to re-opening outlined in their return-to-sport documents.
“City staff will continue to monitor their direction and update the public again in late September,” the City said in a press release issued Wednesday, August 19.
READ MORE: City of Kimberley closes Aquatic Centre
According to their release, the City staff has been reviewing guidelines set in place by viaSport BC, the organization created with support from the provincial government and direction from Lifesaving Society of BC and the British Columbia Recreation and Parks Association.
“While the pool itself is considered low-risk for transmission of COVID-19, other areas of the facility are not,” the City explained.
“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.”
Another recommendation is that patrons use one door for entry and another for exiting the Centre, however this isn’t possible at this particular facility.
viaSport also requires that hot tubs and steam rooms remain closed because these sorts of spaces make it impossible to accommodate adequate physical-distancing protocols.
The City said that even after the Aquatic Centre reopens, 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,” 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.”
The Aquatic Centre has been closed since March 17, 2020. While some other outdoor spaces have been able to re-open most indoor facilities remain closed.
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