Cooling off in an outdoor pool this summer in Calgary comes with some challenges this year.
There are eight outdoor pools in the city but only two are open now; Highwood and Silver Springs opened in July.
They have Alberta Health Services COVID-19 restrictions in place and limited capacities.
Silver Springs pool has a normal capacity of 275 but can only accommodate 76 swimmers now.
The newly renovated Highwood Outdoor Pool has a capacity of 182 but with COVID-19 restrictions, it is only allowing 66 swimmers.
The president of the Silver Springs Community Association said the group decided to open the pool this summer despite the capacity being slashed. When the group crunched the numbers, the benefits to the community outweighed the risks.
“We are a nonprofit so we don’t want to operate at a loss but we also recognize we have an obligation to try to run our community programs so the profit motive is not the primary motive here. It’s offering the services to the community. But as a responsible community association, we obviously need to make sure we are not running unprofitable programs,” said Cydney Elofson on Monday.
“We would not have opened unless we felt we could break even.”
The Mount Pleasant Community Association, which operates the Mount Pleasant Outdoor Swimming Pool, and the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association, which operates of the Bowview Outdoor Swimming Pool, decided not to open their pools for the 2020 summer season.
The Calgary Outdoor Swimming Pool Association, which operates Millican Ogden Outdoor Swimming Pool, Forest Lawn Outdoor Swimming Pool and Stanley Park Outdoor Swimming Pool, determined it didn’t make sense to open the pools for the summer.
“We didn’t really know what the capacities would be. We didn’t know a lot of things when we made the decisions. It was hard,” said Jenny Jensen, executive director of the Calgary Outdoor Swimming Pool Association.
With only two outdoor pools open in Calgary, many families are thrilled to get a spot at either Highwood or Silver Springs — but you have to be fast to reserve the hour-and-a-half time-slots online.
“Over the moon delighted!” said Karen Maslanka, who was at the Highwood pool with her granddaughters on Monday.
“Between 8:01 and 8:05 a.m. every day, the first wave of tickets are usually sold out for public swim,” Elofson said.
There is still hope if you want to book a spot at Highwood or Silver Springs. Late afternoon and evening sessions are the best bet along with the cooler days in the heated pools.
Elofson said seeing how busy the online booking system has been is proof to her that all the effort that went into opening Calgary’s outdoor pools has been worth it.
“After all the work with fundraising for this pool, it is such an affirmation for me to see how right we were, how much this means to people in this community and to give them an opportunity to come here,” Elofson said.
South Calgary Outdoor Swimming Pool will be closed due to renovations for the 2020-21 seasons.