August 13, 2019 5:10 pm
Updated: August 13, 2019 7:30 pm

Calgary Special Olympics swim team hit hard by imminent closure of public pools

WATCH: The Inglewood Aquatic Centre and the Beltline Aquatic and Fitness Centre will see their doors close come the new year. Josh Ritchie reports on the effect these closures have on swim groups in Calgary and the problems they now face.

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The closure of two public Calgary swimming pools is leaving some groups that rely on them in tough situation, as they have to figure out a new place for their teams to practice.

The city announced on Monday that pools in the Inglewood and Beltline communities will see their time come to an end on Jan. 1, 2020. The closures come as part of widespread cuts that followed council approving $60 million in budget cuts last month.

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“I think the initial reaction was shock and wondering what we are going to do with our program at the Inglewood pool,” Karen Hurley with Special Olympics Calgary said.

READ MORE: City of Calgary arenas hit by $60M budget cuts

The Special Olympics program in Calgary sees 60 novice athletes practice at the Inglewood pool each year. Monday’s announcement was a difficult pill to swallow for organizers.

“All of a sudden I find out it can’t have it after the end of the year, so that puts 60 of our athletes in jeopardy of [having access] to a program which is really beneficial to their overall fitness,” Hurley said.

WATCH: Calgary to close arenas earlier on weekdays as part of budget cuts. Tomasia DaSilva reports. 

Now, Hurley and the rest of the Special Olympics organizers must compete with other swim clubs to find a new location to house their athletes for training in 2020 and beyond.

“Hopefully something gets resolved soon so we can get our program up and running,” Hurley said.

READ MORE: Cuts to Calgary Fire Department, police service, transit as council approves $60M budget reduction

The #SaveYYCPools petition is looking to gain the attention of city officials in hopes they see the importance of funding and supporting recreation centres and pools in Calgary. It had more than 1,100 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.

Both the Inglewood Aquatic Centre and Beltline Aquatic and Fitness Centre have been community staples for some time, with the Inglewood centre being built back in 1963, and the Beltline centre opening in 1954.

The city said as of Tuesday, there are no plans for what they plan on doing with the sites once both centres have been closed.

From now until the closure in the new year, hours of operation for both pools are not expected to be affected.

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