Calgary recreation centres cope with water cuts

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Calgary recreation centres cope with water shortage
The calls continue for Calgarians to conserve water and recreation facilities are doing their part. But as Meghan Cobb reports, some of those water-saving measures are having big impacts on local pools and arenas. – Jun 17, 2024

Calgary outdoor pools were scheduled to open Father’s Day weekend, but instead are fenced off to the public. The eight outdoor pools were in the process of filling and treating the water when the 16th Avenue water feeder main burst, pausing that work.

“June was supposed to look really different,” said Riley Harper, Executive Director of Calgary Outdoor Swimming Pool Association. “Now, like most Calgarians, we are leaning into our water conservation.”

With the pools closed, the association has already cancelled swim lessons. At this point in the season there are roughly 100 lessons a week, but that number will climb to 200 per week the further it gets into the summer. Staff are keeping busy with other tasks like making sure the water that has been filled into pools stays ready for when the green light to open finally comes.

“It’s incredibly challenging for operators, but most importantly it impacts our staff,” said Harper. “There’s not really a better job that I can think of than being a lifeguard at an outdoor pool in the summer.”

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Competitive swimmers are also impacted by the pool closures. The Nose Creek Swim Association (NCSA) is scheduled to have a meet this weekend but it’s unclear if that will go ahead. Swimmers are having to adapt training schedules to make sure they are still training going into the competition season.

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“Our top swimmers have anywhere from seven, eight workouts a week plus dry land,” explained David Loyola, head coach with NCSA. “That’s about two water workouts a week now, and five dry land. In a short timeframe that will work but now that we’re hearing three to five weeks, that’s a little more of an issue.”

All City of Calgary pools and arenas are closed as officials try to figure out the impacts to programming. Calgarians are encouraged to check the city’s website if they are concerned swim lessons or summer camps may be cancelled.

Other recreational facilities in the city are also doing their part to cut back. Many gyms and arenas have closed showers to minimize water use. The ice rinks at WinSport are open but are only being flooded when there is damage to repair, and what comes off the ice helps to cut back on the facility’s draw on the city’s water supply.

“For us it’s a bit of a benefit to be using the arenas because the tailings that come off the ice are recycled into our building and used in the toilets,” said Dale Oviatt with WinSport.

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