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Kitsilano Pool to reopen next month, Mayor Ken Sim says

Kits pool — which has been closed due to continuing leaks — is expected to be ready for a health inspection by Aug. 4. If it passes, it will reopen Aug. 7.

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Just weeks after the Vancouver park board announced that popular Kitsilano Pool would be closed for the summer, Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim says it will reopen next month.

But Laurence Keane, who learned to swim at the outdoor pool as a child, is worried that the unknown scope of damage to the pool could result in more unforeseen repairs being needed.

“The story of the pool’s opening keeps changing: How long is this fix going to be good for?” questioned the 74-year-old.

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Sim made the announcement on Friday, standing beside construction crews at the beachside pool in a red hat sporting a lifeguard label.

“These cracks will be repaired and when they are, it will give Kitsilano Pool another anticipated two years of runway … while a new facility is being designed and built,” he said.

The outdoor pool — which has been closed due to continuing leaks posing health and safety risks — is expected to be ready for a health inspection by Aug. 4. If it passes, it will reopen Aug. 7.

Sim said Jeff Stibbard, a mining CEO and engineer, provided pro-bono services with a “second set of eyes” on the state of the aging facility.

kits pool
Kits Pool needs work but Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim said it could open in August. Photo by Arlen Redekop /PNG

While Matthew Pal, a city employee, said the extent of pool repairs needed is still under investigation, “we do know that there is damage to the sub-slab plumbing system that needs to be repaired … even some of the pool basin needs to be repaired.”

The cost of repairs will be covered by $3 million in capital funding that city council reallocated last month for the purpose.

The news comes as a pleasant surprise to regular pool-users like Karen Segal.

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“It’s wonderful,” said Segal, a Kitsilano resident of 17 years. “Three weeks of a swimming season is better than no season at all.”

It was previously announced that a decision had been made to close the 50-year-old pool, which attracts 150,000 visitors during its annual May to September season, for the entire summer.

Initially, the park board estimated the pool would reopen on May 18, but as the date approached, the board said more time was required due to “unforeseen repairs.” Then, in June, the park board confirmed that the completion of critical repairs would take until next summer.

Friday’s announcement comes against a backdrop of a political feud between the mayor and the park board. Last December, Sim and his ABC party majority council voted to begin the process of abolishing the elected board.

Park board chairman Brennan Bastyovanszky questioned Friday why council is now making Kits pool a priority.

“We’ve been begging the city to fund repairs to Kitsilano Pool for a decade now,” said Bastyovanszky, who noted that the maintenance of Kits pool has been a responsibility of the city since the park board signed a deal handing over management of recreational and park assets in 2014.

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“It was the city who let the pool deteriorate to the point where it was completely broken, and now it’s deciding to throw money at it,” he said.

In 2023, the city deferred $30 million in maintenance funds for pools and recreational facilities — including Kitsilano Pool — to later years of capital plan funding, according to a city real estate, environment and facilities management department briefing that was presented to the park board on June 27.

“Deferred maintenance is the amount of investment required to maintain facilities but is not performed,” the briefing states. “If left unfunded, accelerated deterioration of facilities will have a compounding effect on future capital costs, higher operating costs, increased risk exposure, potential unexpected service disruptions, and reduces levels of service and customer satisfaction.”

In response to Bastyovanszky’s comments, Sim said: “When you have two groups accountable for one thing, no one’s accountable … things fall through the cracks.”

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