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Calgary pools close as councillor seeks options for struggling inner city aquatic centre

Click to play video: 'Calgary pools close as councillor seeks options for struggling inner city aquatic centre' Calgary pools close as councillor seeks options for struggling inner city aquatic centre
WATCH ABOVE: This is the last day to enjoy city pools and recreation centres before they shut down because of COVID-19 restrictions. Carolyn Kury de Castillo has more on plans to replace an inner city pool that has been struggling for survival – Dec 12, 2020

A Calgary city councillor is hoping the Inglewood Aquatic Centre can remain open until alternatives for the aging facility are in place.

The Inglewood and Beltline pools have been on the chopping block because of their age and condition.

City officials have said the pools are not profitable due to lack of patrons, but in November 2019, the city voted to keep the pools open for two more years.

Read more: Calgary community pools saved as council votes down cost-saving proposals

The Inglewood Community Association launched a “use it or lose it” campaign last year before the pandemic got in the way.

“With COVID, it’s really hard because our community was making progress and we were really getting the message out there,” said Naomi Withers, communications director with the Inglewood Community Association.

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Withers said she loves to swim with her young family but the Inglewood Aquatic Centre has been one of the eight Calgary pools that has been closed since the pandemic began. Based on the provincial measures announced on Dec. 8, the City of Calgary will close all city-operated recreation facilities on Sunday for at least four weeks.

“Our family has been going to Bob Bahan Pool for family swim every weekend when we can get in,” Withers said.

Withers said she’s seen many members of her community using Bob Bahan pool since Inglewood has been temporarily closed.

“Our neighbours want to swim so we hope the city really remembers that,” she said.

Read more: Alberta’s new COVID-19 measures ban in-person dining, outdoor gatherings; retail to remain open

Ward 9 councillor Gian Carlo Carra said there is a need for an inner city pool and recreation area that is full of the family amenities that are available in the suburbs.

“We can’t deliver that on the Inglewood pool site and that’s why it’s not getting used well enough,” Carra said.

Carra doesn’t think a pool will remain on the current site. Instead, he has some big renovation plans for another inner city aquatic centre.

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“My mission is to make sure we have a very solid plan for pool recreation use, which I quite openly think will be the Repsol Centre for the inner city and other recreational offerings in the community of Inglewood to replace the pool,” he said.

Carra hopes the Inglewood pool can remain open until other recreation alternatives are in place for users.

“I would like to not shut down the Inglewood pool until we have delivered those things,” he said.

In the second quarter of next year, administration will present to council recommendations to address the social and recreational needs of the Inglewood and the Beltline communities, including the long term future of the pools.

“It’s looking increasingly like a doubling and tripling down on the already amazing facility at the Repsol Center,” Carra said.

“Giving it an historic renovation that will allow it to continue to be what it is — which is a great inner city recreation facility that is more focused on high end sports and competition and bring to the table more family oriented and kid oriented recreation opportunities.”

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