The borough of Pierrefonds-Roxboro announced Thursday the cancellation of its aquatic season due to the novel coranvirus pandemic.
That means the Valleycrest municipal public pool and neighbourhood pools in the borough, including Briarwood, PPK and Thorndale, will remain closed for the summer.
The borough says it was a difficult decision to make, but the right one.
“I know that these decisions have a major impact on community,” said borough mayor Jim Beis. “But we also have to be mindful of the restrictions and regulations that have to be respected. ”
Beis said the challenges linked to reopening pools were numerous, both in terms of health and budget constraints.
He pointed to issues such as ratios to be imposed on pool decks, not being able to provide lessons and team sports, bathers having limited time in the pool and logistics related to all the back and forth of needing to make reservations in advance.
Beis also explained that pools in the community are managed by non-profit organizations.
“We felt that in the best interest and for the safety of our community that we would share the opinion of the non-profit organizations and close our pools for this year,” Beis said of the unanimous decision.
Alexis Quan, who is nine, has been swimming since the age of one.
“I want to swim, it’s really fun,” she said. ” I just like that we can feel the fresh air and everything.”
Quan is obviously feeling let down by the news.
“I’m actually a little sad that we can’t go in outdoor pools,” she said, adding she would miss her teacher and her friends.
“We can’t see each other anymore so it’s sad.”
David Pouliot, responsible for maintenance operations at Briarwood pool shared her disappointment.
“We”re saddened we can’t open the pools…but due to the COVID situation, it’s not feasible,” he said.
And it’s unlikely there will be a reversal in the borough’s decision.
“I would love to be open,” said Pouliot. “I think its going to be a beautiful summer, and yes, we would like to be open if we could afford to but we can’t. We can’t afford to be open.”
The Quebec government gave the green light on May 30 for outdoor pools to reopen with physical distancing and other health and hygiene measures in place.
At the time, however, Quebec health minister Danielle McCann warned that “the precautionary measures adopted since the start of the crisis should not make us lose sight of the other essential health needs of citizens, especially during hot weather.”
Beis acknowledged that somewhere for residents to cool down during hot summer days is important.
“We’re fortunate in our borough to have several water parks that are situated throughout the territory,” he said.
He also noted that pools play a far more important role than just helping people cool down and that made the decision even harder.
“I know the value it has for families, the necessity that it is in the community,” Beis said.
“The social part of it is also a priority when you go to a pool, especially when the weather is nice, because a lot of the time the social aspect is more important than going in the actual water,.”
— With files from Global’s Kwabena OduroView link »