Two Calgary swimming pools set for closure may get a reprieve

Two Calgary swimming pools that were set to close next year got a break at a city committee meeting on Wednesday.

Inner-city residents went to city hall to tell stories about why the city would be making a big mistake if the Inglewood and Beltline pools were shut down as part of budget cuts.

Administration said the pools aren’t profitable because of a lack of users, and the facilities are aging and expensive to run. However, on Wednesday, a city committee voted to approve an administration report that will see the city look at different options to continue service at the two pools.

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“I was around when we were going to close the outdoor pools and the uproar was incredible,” said Ward 13 Coun. Diane Colley-Urquhart. “So when you hear people saying they are prepared to pay more taxes to keep their pools open, we need to give this some sober second thought.”

The Calgary Outdoor Swimming Pools Association (COSPA) has expressed interest in helping keep the pools open. The COSPA operates eight outdoor pools on behalf of the City of Calgary and managed to keep four of them from closing in 2005.

“We work very hard on balancing our budget and keeping our operations within the realms of the money that we have. That’s probably the best secret,” said COSPA executive director Jenny Jensen.

“Together we worked and it was the city and the Calgary Outdoor Swimming Pools Association working together to come up with a solution that works for everybody. I think that’s possible again. Whether it’s us operating or other entities out there — but it’s working together with the city and coming up with what’s best for both,” Jensen said.

The Inglewood Community Association said with increased growth planned for the inner city, shutting down recreational facilities is short-sighted.

“Inglewood, Ramsey and Bridgeland are all set to densify with populations increasing by the tens of thousands in the next 10 years, so to lose a recreational asset for communities is something that would never happen in a new community,” said Naomi Withers, communications director with the community association.

The pools were set to close on Jan. 1, 2020 — but Colley-Urquart thinks that may not happen so soon now. If council agrees to the committee’s recommendation, a more detailed report on the future of the pools will come back to council by Nov. 30.

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