Three Edmonton outdoor swimming pools opening this week to high demand, fees reinstated for the first time since 2016

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Edmontonians can beat the heat at three outdoor pools starting this week, but it will come at a cost to many users for the first time in five years.

Queen Elizabeth, Fred Broadstock and Oliver outdoor pools are relaunching this summer after being closed last year due to the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This time around though, admission won’t be free for all residents as it had been since 2017 in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday.

Youth between the ages of 13-17 and seniors over 65 will be required to pay $7.50 for an hour-long public swim and adults will be charged $8.50. Children 12 and under will still be able to attend for free. Pool access will also be included in city recreational facility monthly and annual memberships. In the first year of free access in 2017, outdoor pool attendance more than doubled to 190,000 and cost the city about $450,000.

Council decided to reinstate fares for those 13 and over at outdoor pools as well as reduce the season in an effort to achieve a property tax freeze in 2021. The city estimates these measures will save $306,000 a year.

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Mill Creek outdoor pool will remain closed for the season as it undergoes rehabilitation work and the newest Borden Natural pool is still being considered for opening. In a statement to Postmedia, city spokesman Christopher Webster said because the pool doesn’t use chemicals for cleaning, COVID-19 health and safety risks are still being reviewed by Alberta Health Services.

“Pools are the most complex because, besides filling them with water, they must undergo water quality testing and have Alberta Health Services approval to open. This is the usual process for pools and is not related to the pandemic. Additionally, we must have enough lifeguards in place to ensure the safety of people using the pools,” Webster said in a statement. “With many of our buildings closed for some time we must recall staff on temporary layoff and ensure facilities are ready for the public. We appreciate many are eager for us to move more quickly, but these steps are an important part of bringing these complex facilities back online.”

It has already been difficult for residents to book a pool time with most slots booking up as soon as they opened Monday morning. Queen Elizabeth outdoor pool opened Monday to less than stellar weather with thunderstorms rolling through the city, but that didn’t impact the demand for bookings.

All of the hour-long public swim sessions for Monday were booked early in the morning and almost all lane swims, for 30 minutes, have been booked for the next two weeks. It’s the same demand at the Kinsmen pool with most lane swim bookings already filled for the week. Bookings for the other two outdoor pools slated to open this week aren’t yet being accepted.

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Webster said the city is aware aquatic demand is high and is working to open up more pools as soon as possible. The two other outdoor pools will open later this week, but official opening dates haven’t been announced.

Indoor pools will also be reopening this month, starting with the Kinsmen Sports Centre facility which opened Monday. Peter Hemingway, Eastglen, Confederation and the ACT Leisure Centre will remain closed for rehabilitation work. The pools at Commonwealth, Bonnie Doon and Jasper Place are slated to open next week.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, users must pre-book a time slot for any use of city recreation facilities.

duscook@postmedia.com

twitter.com/dustin_cook3

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