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Wave machine facing uncertain future in Kelowna

H2O Adventure and Fitness Centre
December 22, 2017 - 1:30 PM

KELOWNA - If you’re like most people, your experience with the FlowRider wave simulator at Kelowna’s H20 people has been mainly watching other people use it.

If you have ventured onto the FlowRider, you’ve likely wound up like the rest of us — ingloriously dumped at the top after falling, lucky to still have your swimsuit on and your dignity intact.

And if you’re any good at staying upright, you’re probably under the age of 25 and willing to sacrifice your body practicing — that is when the aging device is actually working.

Active living director Jim Gabriel confirmed that at least anecdotally, the FlowRider has a relatively low user base compared to other offerings at the city-owned aquatic facility.

“It’s a very unique feature targeted at a younger demographic,” Gabriel says. “The mechanical system has been a challenge and it has been down a fair bit in the last few years."

All that has put the FlowRider in the city’s sights for possible replacement, although Gabriel stresses that it’s not a done deal.

The FlowRider is a patented wave simulator that Gabriel said was installed at the time to try to attract a broad spectrum of users.

"When H2O was built, it was your water playground and we tried to have something for everyone," he adds. "There was the 50 metre pool, lazy river, the wave pool and so on."

He doesn’t know how much of the $46 million cost of the aquatic centre was spent on the FlowRider but says it will cost $200,000 to replace the pumps and motors that drive it.

“Before doing that, we’re looking at other pressures in the facility, to see if spending more money on it is the best option,” Gabriel says.

Despite its elite status, local FlowRider sensation Jonathan Hintz has managed to snag almost 6,000 signatures on an online petition calling for the relatively rare wave simulator — it's the only one in B.C. — to be preserved.

No decision on replacing the FlowRider will happen before next spring and before that, Gabriel says city will spend as much as $50,000 measuring usage and looking at other options for the space.

One possible replacement for the space it now occupies is another training pool to compliment the 50 metre main pool, Gabriel says.

“It would allow us to increase our capacity for swimming lessons and increase capacity in other areas of the pool,” he says.

The H2O Aquatic Centre opened in 2009.

To contact a reporter for this story, email John McDonald or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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