Swimmers will make a splash in Turner Valley’s outdoor pool as it opens for the season on June 7 amid COVID-19 restrictions.
The 56-year-old Dr. Lander Memorial Pool will operate similar to last year, under strict guidelines as per Alberta Health Services’ standards for outdoor pools, said Monique LeBlanc, the Town’s community services and business development manager.
“Where it’s at right now, we will operate under very limited conditions and restrictions,” she said. “We’re hoping that we can pretty much mirror last year’s schedule, pending the COVID-related restrictions. We are carefully watching any changes in the guidelines in order to adjust our program offerings and pool occupancy.”
The facility, which opened to public use last season on July 9, offered a set schedule of 90-minute aqua-fit, lane swim and public swimming sessions, with 30-minute breaks between to allow staff to sanitize.
Staff implemented one-directional flow in and out of the pool and limited access to the change rooms, requiring patrons to arrive in their swimwear and bring their belongings to the pool deck.
LeBlanc said the same rules will apply, given current COVID-19 regulations, but hopes staff can offer swimming lessons in July if restrictions relax.
In the meantime, existing guidelines don’t allow cohort groups in public outdoor pools, only people in the same household up to 10 people, LeBlanc said.
Earlier this spring, the Town entered into an agreement with Okotoks to contract the facility and neighbouring spray park’s management of staffing and programming to Okotoks.
LeBlanc said the three-year contract will establish consistency in staff and service levels, and introduces an online booking system through www.activeokotoks.ca, under ‘Aquatics Activities in Turner Valley.’
“Last year there was so much administrative time spent managing the phone calls and emails,” she said, adding staff were, at times, responding to 100 calls a day.
She said the pool schedule will be published a week in advance to allow for time to adjust schedules and staff levels if needed.
With last year’s late opening and restricted capacity, the facility’s revenue dropped 50 per cent from 2019, according to Town documentation. It shows that 4,489 patrons accessed the facility during eight weeks of operation in 2020 compared to 8,343 over 14 weeks in 2019 and 7,073 over 13 weeks in 2018.
Last year, 80 per cent of available swim time was fully booked, the report states. Adjustments were made during the season by adding three hours of lane swim, converting teen swim to public swim and allowing cohorts to book into public swims when there was adequate space.
Keeping the outdoor pool open during the warmer months is crucial for the Town, said Mayor Barry Crane.
“The pool has always been a mainstay of fun and family activity,” he said. “We look forward to being able to supply that service in the safest manner possible.”
Crane said residents and visitors alike look forward to utilizing the pool and spray park each summer.
Unused passes from 2020 will be honoured in the form of a discount on new passes.
Updated information will be posted, as it becomes available, to www.turnervalley.ca