New Canada Games Pool Needed?

This is a guest post by Andrew Evans, a fitness advisor at New Westminster’s Canada Games Pool who also writes a blog called Fit New West. Andrew holds a Human Kinetics Degree from UBC and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Andrew offers Personal Training services for Health and Performance in New Westminster, B.C. He can be reached at FitNewWest@gmail.com.

Let me start off by saying that I love the Canada Games Pool (CGP). It is the most valuable facility in New Westminster.

My love relationship with the Canada Games Pool started in 2002 when I directed summer day camps and would bring groups of 40-50 children twice a week to enjoy the facility. Upon graduating from university I was hired in the fitness centre and have now been there over five years.  I feel I can safely say  Canada Games Pool is the most important facility in New Westminster because it is biggest source of physical activity for children in the municipality.

Last week the main swimming pool was shut down for two days to repair a broken pipe. The pool was half emptied and swimming lessons and public swims were cancelled for two days. (Editor’s note: The pool is also closed today, Sunday 16th – I tried to go there today myself – Jen) The heart and soul of CGP are the children who use the pool, and for two days, they were missing.  Normally, there are times the pool is so jammed packed with screaming children some older patrons complain of the noise, but really, we all love to see the drenched mobs even though our ears bleed. Gradually these children grow up to bring in their own children. This cycle must continue.

Maybe you were one of those kids who grew up using CGP; starting with parent and tot swimming lessons, joining the Hyack swim club or just trying to sneak in the hot tub during public swim times. I have spoken with many patrons who reminisce about their childhood swimming adventures and hangouts at the CGP and I regularly hear “I’ve been coming here for the past 30 years…”.

14000 swimming lessons are delivered at the pool annually, the most in the country. Furthermore, the instruction is the best in the country, with top notch management and supervision. The only thing lacking at the CGP is assurance the building will last another 10 years. In a year I intend to have my two year old twin boys start lessons at CGP, and I hope that they will be able to continue their lessons into their teens without interruption due to facility issues.  In a December 1st article in the Royal City Record,  Councilor Betty McIntosh suggested there are condominium pools in the city that can be used instead of an updated facility.  From the article:

McIntosh said the city doesn’t have to be providing all services that are offered in the community. She noted there are a number of fitness centres in the city and several apartments have swimming pools. “There are private facilities coming on-stream that are meeting the needs of some new residents,” she said. “The city doesn’t have to meet the needs of everybody. We don’t have to be everything for everybody.”

Since I don’t have access to a condo pool, I suppose my boys can have swimming lessons in their kiddie pool.

Backyard Shenanigans - But is it enough?

In my opinion, I believe it is simply wrong to risk having more shutdowns at the Canada Games Pool and cheating out our children because there are other ‘priorities’ in New West. A solution must be found to prevent any further shutdown of the CGP. The building is old and as we go forward without addressing an upgrade, the children are going to miss out.

In a society where childhood obesity abounds and is on the rise, don’t you think we should be trying to solve these problems? I also firmly believe the provincial government should take a part in a solution since a huge proportion of patrons of CGP are from outside the municipality. Additionally, the provincial government should also be playing a bigger role in promoting physical activity.

An upgrade of the CGP could be an opportunity for New Westminster and British Columbia to demonstrate to the country how to get kids active on a large, practical scale and set a standard, rather than take 14,000 steps backward.