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Future uncertain for Vancouver Aquatic Centre

As the swimming club turns 40 this month, the City mulls demolition
Aquatic Centre
Canadian Dolphin Swim Club is trying to save its home, the Vancouver Aquatic Centre (pictured), which could face demolition.

Dozens of swimmers and community members gathered to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Vancouver Aquatic Centre this month, however, the future of the aging facility remains uncertain.

In an “invitation for innovative offers” made public in May, the City of Vancouver detailed a possible plan to demolish and relocate the West End swimming pool. The pool, which sits at the north end of the Burrard Street Bridge, would be moved to the site of the former Continental Hotel at the north end of the Granville Street Bridge as part of a possible residential high-rise development on the site, with developer picking up the tab.

Parks board chair Aaron Jasper told the Vancouver Sun in August that the pool is need of upgrades costing about $40 million and that money has not been set aside in the next four-year capital plan.

Given the expense of repairing the pool, Jasper said the City is “open to considering any alternative.”

The Canadian Dolphins Swim Club has called the Vancouver Aquatic Centre home since it opened in 1974, but they have not yet received any word from the City about the possible fate of their pool.

The swim club celebrated the Vancouver Aquatic Centre’s 40th anniversary on Oct. 18. Swim mom and CDSC board member Laleh Hashemi said the club recently paid for a new scoreboard and starting blocks for the pool.

“We’ve invested so much in this swimming pool,” she says. “It’s our home and it’s very close to us.”

The swim club’s head coach Kelly Taitinger says that should the aquatic centre be replaced, he would like to see a facility capable of hosting provincial- and national-level events, which the current pool is unable to do.

“A step forward in proper training facilities is needed where there are things such as ample space for training of world-level athletes; weight rooms; hot tubs; cold baths; physiology analysis and gymnasiums that will help make sure athletes are able to train properly and recover as well,” Taitinger stated.  

“As a major city, Vancouver should be looking to host multi-level meets in the downtown core which is convenient to hotels, bus and Canada Line as well as restaurants and parks. [Hosting meets] brings in millions of tourist dollars… which helps the businesses around the downtown area.  Major meets usually host up anywhere from 500 to 1,500 athletes and draw in another 1,500 people of support staff and family members.”

In order to host international swim events, Taitinger said the City would have to build two 50-metre tanks with seating capabilities of up to 2,000. An additional leisure tank ­­– as well as water slides, game areas, fitness centres, and meeting areas – would also be needed.

While CDSC has yet to hear from the City about the future of the pool, Taitinger said the addition of a 50-metre tank to the current facility would also allow the club to host top-level events.

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