The Harris Park pool in Pitt Meadows will not be open for the 2021 season. (The News files)

The Harris Park pool in Pitt Meadows will not be open for the 2021 season. (The News files)

Pitt Meadows closes pool for the coming season

COVID-19 safety measures would limit swimmers at Harris Park pool

Pitt Meadows city council closed the Harris Road Outdoor pool for the 2021 pool season, due to COVID-19.

It will be the second straight summer the pool has been dry.

“In line with provincial guidelines, the pool should only be operated if adequate controls can be maintained at all times,” manager of engineering and facilities Salia Ahrabian told council at Tuesday’s council meeting.

She said it is a small tank, with a normal capacity of 62 swimmers at a time, but that would be reduced dramatically during the pandemic.

With COVID-19 controls and guidelines, including physical distancing of two meters at all times, the pool would be reduced to between nine and 12 bathers during public swimming, and just six people during lane swimming. So staff recommended not having a 2021 season, and noted the Harris Road Spray Park will be operational from June to September.

Coun. Tracy Miyashita said it would be impossible for staff to enforce the two meters social distancing requirement.

“Have fun, but stay in one spot,” she said facetiously. “It doesn’t make sense, to me, to keep it open.”

“We closed this pool last summer, and we had a lot less cases than we do now,” added Miyashita.

If it opened, there could also be no spectators, public swimming must be pre-booked, and there can be no swim toys or flotation devices. Patrons would arrive ready to swim, and leave without using showers.

There would be defined swim times, with defined cleaning times in between. The additional cleaning would be a contributing factor in swelled operating costs, from $76,000 to $110,000 – a hike of about 46 per cent.

Coun. Anena Simpson clarified the additional cost could be covered by a provincial COVID-19 grant, which is intended to cover additional expenses. She and Coun. Mike Hayes were the dissenting voices, and spoke in favour of keeping the pool open.

READ ALSO: Pitt Meadows receives $3.7 million for COVID-19 costs

Simpson called it “a wonderful resource” and “a very important resource for families in the summer.”

“I can’t think of a better way to use the provincial grant, than to keep this pool open for our families,” she said.

Simpson proposed the pool be made available for families to reserve in one-hour blocks, for people in the same household.

Hayes noted surrounding communities have their pools open, and that the lowest COVID case numbers occurred during summer.

“We have been through a lot. Our kids have been through so much,” added Hayes. “It’s a small service, but I think it’s important to have for our residents.”

READ ALSO: B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

Coun. Gwen O’Connell noted “the variants are just starting, we don’t know what’s going to happen, and I’m terrified of that.”

Coun. Nicole MacDonald also said health and safety was her main concern, noting her own daughter’s sport team has a positive case.

The city intends to operate the pool in 2022.

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