Parents and swimmers in the Langley Olympians Swim Club (LOSC) are “heartbroken” by the Langley Township council decision to keep Walnut Grove pool closed, Kristi McIntosh said.
McIntosh, a parent and volunteer with the club, was reacting to the Monday night council decision to reopen the smaller W.C. Blair pool instead of the Walnut Grove Recreation Centre pool.
LOSC, which trained at Walnut Grove before the COVID-19 pandemic closed the pool in March, is currently using the outdoor Aldergrove Rec Centre pool for practices.
While younger swimmers in the LOSC will be able to get some benefit from training at W.C. Blair, it is not suitable for the older, elite swimmers, McIntosh told the Langley Advance Times.
“You can’t dive off the side, there’s no block and two of the lanes are too shallow,” McIntosh advised.
A proposal to reopen Walnut Grove pool was defeated Monday, Oct. 26, with Mayor Jack Froese and Councillors David Davis, Steve Ferguson, Kim Richter, and Eric Woodward opposed.
A report to council by Rob Stare, Township deputy director for parks and recreation, estimated the additional cost to the Township of opening Walnut Grove would be approximately $186,000 to the end of 2020, and $1.1 million through 2021, while WC Blair would cost $146,000 to the end of 2020 and $870,000 to the end of 2021.
“Staff maintain that [WC Blair] can be more efficiently managed from a staff and guest safety viewpoint, with limited touch points and a smaller footprint compared to [Walnut Grove],” the report said.
McIntosh said another cost-saving option mentioned in the report, closing the Aldergrove pool to save $95,060 through 2020, and $823,855 in 2021, was not considered.
“They never discussed closing Aldergrove.”
Colder weather is beginning to take hold at the outdoor Aldergrove pool, with temperatures as low as 1.5 degrees for morning practices, McIntosh added.
“We are one of two clubs in Canada without an indoor pool,” McIntosh argued.
“The other is in Kamloops and that is only because of renos being done.”
Olympians are the current 2020 Winter Provincial Champions and have three nationally carded athletes.