Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley blasted the parks department last month for poor planning ahead of C.G. Brown Pool closing last October.
Much of his ire was directed at a temporary structure built at Kensington Park Outdoor Pool, which he described as a “makeshift thing” and “a complete embarrassment.”
The temporary deck cover was added, and the hours extended at Kensington Pool in North Burnaby after the closure of C.G. Brown Pool, “to assist with the demand from aquatic user groups,” according to a parks department’s report.
But the mayor said increasing pool availability at Kensington was never a council priority.
“Now we have this makeshift thing at Kensington which I find to be — I’ll try to be as kind as possible — a complete embarrassment,” Hurley said at a financial management committee in December.
The temporary deck cover, which does not extend over the pool itself, appears to be made up of exposed metal scaffolding covered by a white tarp overhead.
“I don’t know who approved that, or whose idea it was, but it certainly didn’t come from council. And Kensington never was a priority from council; it was always Central Park.”
The mayor also expressed displeasure at receiving the report after the closure of C.G. Brown.
“My frustration with this is at such at level that I can’t even explain it, because these reports should have been brought back to us two years ago,” Hurley said.
“There should have been some kind of replacement ready for when C.G. Brown came down. That didn’t happen, so now we need to move forward.”
Mayor wants permanent, not temporary pool covers
During the meeting, Hurley lobbied for the committee to approve a permanent cover over the pool at Central Park, similar to one recently built at a community centre in Aldergrove, rather than continuing with the temporary cover over the Kensington pool deck, as recommended by staff.
“I know it’s going to cost some money. But it’s money that’s going to be well-spent because it’s going to last for 30, 40 years.”
Burnaby’s four outdoor pools, all built in the early 1960s, are nearing the end of their service lives, according to the staff report.
But the mayor later told the NOW the outdoor structures can be built in a way where the pool can be replaced but the structure remains.
“The Central Park pool, I’m pretty confident there’s 20 years of life still in there, at least,” the mayor said.
Hurley told the NOW he was “quite surprised” at the cost of the temporary pool cover options (one temporary option for the Central Park pool was estimated at $2.6 million) and said, “It seemed to be a waste to spend that kind of money on a temporary one,” adding it would be better to put the money towards a permanent structure.
The mayor emphasized at the committee he wants a permanent cover before next winter, though he said to the NOW he questioned if it were possible.
The parks department said it wanted to study the needs for the Central Park pool, but Hurley was unconvinced.
“I’m sick of studies, quite honestly. We study things, and we spend more on consultants than if we could just do the thing. So, I think it’s time to move forward in Central Park with a permanent cover.”
The committee voted to ask staff to return with a design and cost of a permanent cover for the pool at Central Park.
📣 SOUND OFF: Has the closure of C.G. Brown Pool affected your swim activities? Should the pool at Central Park be covered with a permanent or temporary structure? Send us a letter.