“The lockers still have that new-car smell,” Kathleen Pearl said, laughing.
Pearl had lined up with more than a dozen other swimmers at the W.C. Blair Recreation Centre at 22200 Fraser Highway Sunday morning before it re-opened at 6:30 a.m.
They were the first swimmers in the pool since the 1986-era Murrayville facility was closed for extensive renovations last year.
Pearl was especially pleased by the new easier-to-use entrance steps that replaced a portable set of stairs for people with mobility issues to use when entering the pool.
“They’ve done a phenomenal job,” Pearl said.
A sign outside the centre Sunday morning said “we’re baaack.”
There are a number of new features, among them a climbing wall over the deep end of the pool, a small indoor “water table” for children to play on, an expanded family changing room and a reconfigured parking lot.
Programs were set to resume and the fitness facilities were open on Sunday.
Bonnie Stewart was one of several swimmers to remark on how much brighter the pool seemed with its lighter tiles. and white ceiling with new sound baffles that do a better job of softening the echoes.
“It’s so beautiful,” Stewart said.
Candiss Brown was just glad to have her regular pool available again.
During the shutdown, people were being directed to other pools by the Township, but Brown found that there was no real substitute for her preferred swimming spot.
“I tried Walnut Grove (pool), but it’s just too busy,” Brown said.
The water is also cooler in the Walnut Grove pool compared to W.C. Blair, something several swimmers referred to Sunday while the Times was visiting.
There are still a few final touches remaining.
There are temporary plywood wall dividers in some of the new privacy cubicles, and other behind-the-scene work is continuing, but the pool and most amenities are ready for use and it was important to open as soon as possible, said community recreation manager Lesley Visser.
“We had lots of people calling, asking ‘when are you opening?’ she said.
The re-opening was originally scheduled for January, but had to be delayed when unexpected problems were encountered by work crews.
According to a memo to council, “significant issues were encountered” when demolition crews took down the walls and concrete slabs in the facility, which was built more than 30 years ago.
Among other things, concrete slabs that were supposed to be a foot thick turned out to be three feet thick, along with “failing and deteriorating pool and sanitary piping, and failing pool features” which required additional work, a report to council stated.
“These changes were needed to ensure the upgrades are in compliance with all the applicable regulations and provide a safe facility for public use.”
The pool has been closed to the public since Sept. 12 of last year.
It is the oldest indoor pool in the Township, having first opened its doors on Dec. 12, 1986.
There are new operating hours at the reopened W.C. Blair, with the facility closing half an hour earlier throughout the week.
The new schedule: Monday to Friday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
To learn more or to sign up, visit tol.ca/wcblair.
Residents may also contact the Township of Langley’s Parks and Recreation Division at 604-533-6170 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.