It took nearly two hours of debate but City Council has decided to move forward with a design for the Bear Creek Outdoor Pool that doesn’t have a lazy river. While he admits the feature would have been nice, Mayor Bill Given explains that the alternative means having more room for programming.
“In my opinion, [it] offered more opportunity for free play; for families and children to sort of direct their play as they wished. I felt personally that the design that was proposed for the lazy river would really be underwhelming and wouldn’t provide as much flexibility for a facility like this.”
The lazy river would have been about half the size of the one at the Eastlink Centre and more shallow. It also would have meant an increase in the minimum number of lifeguards on staff, of which each costs an extra $30,000 to $50,000 a season. Councillor Jackie Clayton had pushed for it, but believes the final project will make Grande Prairie families happy.
“In addition to the splash pad, now we’ll have this amazing facility which is larger than the original pool; the footprint is an expanded area within the park. There’s going to be a zero entry and features for young children. It’s truly catering from the infant up to probably a pre-teen or early teen.”
For the older teens, City is also looking at adding a seven foot, three loop water slide, which would cost an extra $300,000. Without it the quote is over $4.7 million dollars, and council is looking to add up to $50,000 in additional spray features.
That includes other features like a 1 to 1.5 foot tot pool with a slide and spray features. The main pool itself will have the beach entry, which is easier for young children and accessible to people in wheelchairs. Most of the pool will be between a 2 to 3.5 foot depth, with the deepest point being four feet. There’s room for lane swimming, as well as a volleyball court and basketball hoops.
The pool closed in 2013 when the basin started to crack, but the City has committed $5 million to reopening it in 2018. City staff say 85 per cent of the existing structure has been retained.
It’s expected the current amount of parking will serve the influx of users, but Given says the City wouldn’t rule it out if needed in the future. No consideration has been made yet towards user fees, and the design does not include a pool cover, which generally considered more of a safety risk than a benefit.