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Pools expanding capacity, moving to drop-in

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 4:12 PDT, Tue July 20, 2021

Richmond pools will return to near normal starting Aug. 3.

Instead of having to pre-book a swimming session, people can begin to drop in at one of the city’s four pools, says aquatic services manager John Woolgar. And the pools—outdoors at Steveston and South Arm, and indoors at Watermania and the Minoru Centre for Active Living—will return to pre-pandemic capacity limits. 

Woolgar says most directional arrows at pools have been removed, although some remain “that are practical.” Masks will still be required in lobbies, but once people enter the changing area they are optional. Wearing a mask in the pool is not recommended.

“I think that people are used to having to wear a mask everywhere they go. We have had very (few) complaints or concerns from the public about having to put a mask on, and I think people have been really receptive to the protocols that we’ve put in place at pools,” says Woolgar.

Equipment and toys like pool noodles and kickboards are now being loaned out again, although party room bookings are not resuming until the province enters Step 4 in the fall. Saunas and steam rooms at pools are still closed as well, and Woolgar says the city is looking for guidance from federal and local health authorities about when those facilities will be able to reopen. 

Other programs, including swimming lessons, have been gradually increasing 

in numbers. Parents are still required to be in the water with young children (until they reach Red Cross Swim Kids level 5), but in the coming months that requirement will be removed.

With this being National Drowning Prevention Week, Woolgar says it’s an opportunity to remind everyone about safety in and around the water. The city is also recruiting for lifeguards and running courses for those who are interested.

The Minoru pool is closing for maintenance between Aug. 3 and Sept. 13, so drop-in swimming will not happen there until September. But at the other three pools, people will be able to take a dip at any time.

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