London’s municipal outdoor pools and one of its wading pools will officially open for summer on Canada Day, the city announced Tuesday, just in time for the warmer-than-normal temperatures forecasters say the region should expect through the season.
The outdoor pool at the city’s Stronach Community Recreation Centre, located on Sandford Street, is currently open, while eight other outdoor pools will open to the public on July 1, the city says.
City wading pools are also set to open next month, with the wading pool at Springbank Park opening first on July 1. The remaining wading pools will open on July 4 and 5, weather permitting, the city says.
“Between the wading pools and the spray pads, which are all wonderful free opportunities, we still hope there’s enough aquatic amenities out there to support the community in their needs this summer,” said Jon-Paul McGonigle, director of recreation and sport with the city.
Staying closed this year due to structural issues are the outdoor Glen Cairn and Thames pools, both of which were found to be in need of repair following assessments.
According to a staff report that went before the community and protective services committee on May 31, the city made investments to the 59-year-old Glen Cairn pool last year to keep it open during the pandemic, hoping the work would make it able to stay open for the 2022 season.
Further deterioration of the pool tank and other structural components, including the concrete pool walls, slab, deck and retaining walls, halted those plans, however, and a structural consultant recommended that “significant repairs” be carried out before the pool be deemed safe for public use.
“We will be bringing a report forward to council later in the fall to give them some options for consideration about the future of that pool,” said McGonigle.
“And then Thames Pool, we just discovered last week that the pool floor and some of the mechanical related items have experienced a bit of a failure. We can’t really talk too much about the extent of that failure yet or the timelines to rectify it, because we need some more investigative work done first.”
McGonigle says the city understands the news will come as a disappointment for members of the community, and notes that officials are looking into other options to offer families and individuals living near the two closed pools.
After learning of the issues with Thames Pool, McGonigle says the city worked to get Stronach open as soon as possible to satisfy those who had already registered for aquatic opportunities.
As outdoor and wading pools get ready to open, the city is still experiencing a shortage of qualified lifeguards for the summer season as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic — a problem not confined to the city or the province.
The issue has resulted in reduced hours for London aquatic services.
“It usually takes us about 110 lifeguards to be able to offer our full complement of pools and programs,” McGonigle said. Right now, the city is short between 15 and 25 lifeguards, he said.
“It is impacting program offerings. Our objective in recreation and sport is to try and get back to our pre-COVID service levels and we’re about 80 per cent there from an aquatic perspective, and I think we would be farther along if we didn’t have the lifeguard shortage as an outcome of COVID,” he said.
Certification courses will be held throughout the summer, fall and winter he said, and the city hopes to return to 2019 levels in time for next summer.
Those interested in taking part in swimming lessons and aquatic leadership lessons should act quickly, the city says, as limited spaces are available. Schedules are posted on the Play Your Way portal. Recreational swim schedules will be made available on the portal as of June 20.
Anyone interested in being a lifeguard can find more information and apply via the city’s website.