KAMLOOPS - Some residents of Westsyde are disappointed with the uncertain future of their pool.
Amanda Cosburn, who submitted a petition to keep the pool open last week, says she’s unhappy with councillors’ decision to consult with north Kamloops communities about the future of recreation facilities. She says Westsyders are concerned about the possibly permanent closing of the current pool and a possible new leisure facility at McArthur Island.
“I’m disappointed. I feel like this is just a formality and the city has already made a decision,” Cosburn says.
At the council meeting yesterday, Feb. 2, councillors discussed options for replacing the damaged roof of the Westsyde pool. All options cost significantly more than the original estimate of $2.1 million, so council decided to turn to the community to discuss options. One option mentioned was a larger leisure pool facility on McArthur Island. Recreation director Byron McCorkell says that many of Kamloops’s facilities were built in the 1970s. He says the communities have become accustomed to them, but the centres are inefficient to run and coming to the end of their life cycles.
“When you have these opportunities to talk about infrastructure, sometimes it’s tough. We already closed a pool in Valleyview and we already closed a pool in Riverside Park because it became inefficient and we were building something else,” McCorkell said after yesterday's council meeting. “That’s the only time to really talk about these things.”
Residents have taken to social media to voice frustration. Some see the decision for consultation and a potential follow up study as a way for the city to close Westsyde pool and centralize facilities away from outlying communities. Many residents said they chose Westsyde in particular because of the amenities, including schools, parks and the pool including Cosburn.
“We moved to Bebek Street specifically because of the schools and the pool,” Westsyde resident Roland Walker says. “My wife and I were thrilled and it’s so disheartening for it to grind to a halt.”
With the pool currently closed due to it’s damaged roof, Walker has had to take his two young daughters to the Canada Games Pool in Sahali, a 20-minute drive from Westsyde. He says the experience there has been negative.
“The Canada Games pool is too crowded, you can’t swim at all,” he says. “I know some other people at the Canada Games pool. They said they used to go to Westsyde because the Canada Games pool was to crowded.”
Walker says the programs at the Westsyde were popular, despite what numbers from the city say about its usage.
“There’s lineups that I used to get stressed out about,” he says. “Lessons filled up within a day.”
Cosburn blames the city for the pool's low usage and says part of the reason were the bad hours. She also suggests the city’s neglect led to the current situation and there should have been better planning as Westsyde is growing community. While she understands the city has limited land in the area, she says land was available nearby up until recently, and that the pool is adjacent to a high school and school board land that may be an option.
“I feel that it’s under-utilized because it’s inadequate and not been kept up. It’s an investment into the community while promoting healthy living,” Cosburn says. “With the expansion and new developments the numbers will be there if they choose to invest, maintain and upgrade the pool.”
She’s concerned that while there’s interest in the community to keep the pool, the city consultations will take time and people will lose focus over time.
“The one good thing about this decision is the community outreach. I’m planning on attending those and I’m encouraging all the Westsyders and nearby areas to come out.
Other Kamloops residents on social media have pointed out that other neighbourhoods in Kamloops don’t have pools or similar facilities.
“I’ve heard people say Westsyde is entitled and spoiled. Dallas, Barnhartvale have to drive,” Cosburn says. “It’s an established facility and it’s been part of the community for years. We chose to live here because of these amenities.”
“This is our pool and it’s used and loved by the community. Losing it is going to take a big toll on Westsyde.”
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