The Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre remains closed for the time being as Leisure Services and other District of Kitimat departments work to deal with a structural support issue.
In the August 17 Kitimat Council meeting, a report was made to Council about concrete spalling that had occurred near the entry area of the teach pool, which was weakening the deck support. Spalling occurs when water enters the concrete or because of the moisture already present in the concrete, which forces the surface of the concrete to peel, pop out, or flake off.
In this case, the engineering company, Stantec, reported on a leak in the main and teach pool tanks in 2017, and said they would have to be replaced in the next several years. Over the next two years, concrete spalling was spotted over the gutter system in the shallow end and supports were added for extra strength in the area.
The infrastructure was looked at again this year, and the spalling was more significant and there was exposure of the bars that were put in to help strengthen the concrete. The engineers reported that the structural weakening was enough that the area wasn’t suitable for foot traffic.
Shaun O’Neill, Deputy Director of Leisure Services, said that their pool regulations are overseen by Northern Health, and they have to have to involve them in regards to approvals to enact a permanent fix, as well as to enact temporary measures to possibly open the pool.
O’Neill said they have written their report to submit to Northern Health, but it will take some time for the full process of sending the report, having Northern Health review it, having them send back their recommendations, then coming up with a plan to implement those recommendations.
Because of this, they are unable to provide any guesses on possible opening dates, because they are unsure of what the response from Northern Health will be, and what possible steps they will have to take when the response arrives.
However, O’Neill said the first step is just getting the report back, so they can at least see what their options are.
“From there, we’ll have a bit better of a timeline in regard to what we’re able to do,” O’Neill said. “It is a very multi-staged, or phased approach and because of that, until we get some more information back from Northern Health, it’s very difficult at this time to predict a resolution to the fix, as well as an opening date to the public.”
For the fall, O’Neill said they’re currently looking at doing drop-in programming for the public if the pool is able to open. No lessons will be running during the fall session for the time being, either, due to the spalling occurring right by the teach pool.
“Obviously it’s our goal to try to get that more permanent fix done as safely and as quickly as possible, and then when that’s done, of course we could bring our lessons back,” O’Neill said. “But judging by what’s required, it probably won’t be until January that we’ll be able to offer them again.”
O’Neill added that another opening delay would have to occur around guard training, both for the spalling issue and for COVID-19 protocols.
If Northern Health reports back with a temporary fix for the spalling and the pool is able to open, they’ll have to take some time to retrain the guards on the new flow pattern and safety protocols so that they’re able to guard effectively around the temporary fix.
“Once we get those approvals, then we can set our timeline for creating a temporary fix, then getting our staff orientated,” O’Neill said. “And you can see it’s kind of a domino effect, and that’s why it’s very difficult for us to get an official date that we can give to people.”
For COVID-19 protocols, guards will require much heavier personal protective equipment (PPE) while guarding and when completing rescues. In the case of CPR and rescue breathing, O’Neill said guards will be using bag valve masks (BVM) instead of pocket masks if providing breaths to minimize contact and air transfer between people. For cases on dry land, O’Neill said they will only be doing compressions, with no rescue breathing.
“[The lifeguards] have been trained in a certain way for so many years that we’ve had to very strategically take the time to teach them the new habits and new routines, because when emergencies happen, our staff, because of their high level of training, tend to go into react mode and go through a series of processes,” O’Neill said. “So we have had to be very strategic in how we’ve provided them the opportunity to learn those new protocols so they become habitual, or routine, I should say, as opposed to have them think about it in the moment.”
Leisure Services and the District of Kitimat will be providing updates on their website and their Facebook pages once they have more information from Northern Health.
“As soon as we’re able to provide a bit more of a firm date or timeline for the public, we will do so,” O’Neill said, “and we just ask for their patience as we make sure the facility is safe for them to return.”