Aquatic centre busy last summer, revenues show increased usage

The Town of Rimbey got its feet wet this summer with the opening of its new outdoor aquatic centre

The Rimbey Aquatic Centre was a busy place this summer and the children’s slide and play area was especially active.

The Town of Rimbey got its feet wet this summer with the opening of its new outdoor aquatic centre but while the municipality sometimes appeared to be sinking in the deep end, overall, the pool’s first season went swimmingly well.

Recreation director Rick Kreklewich said even though the pool ran at a $88,000 deficit, revenues were higher than expected.

“The old pool had a revenue of around $60,000, and we have so much more to offer the community with our new facility.”

Kreklewich presented a report to council regarding the aquatic centre at its Oct. 22 meeting.

The report stated head counts of people using the pool showed a significant increase from 2009.

He said during 85 operating days, 2,315 people used the pool compared to 2009, when there were 880 single admissions during 88 operating days.

Adult admissions increased significantly from 2009 with 565 adults signing in to use the pool compared to 101 three years ago.

The pool saw 488 family admissions compared to 293 in 2009.

This year 75 individual seasons passes and 51 family passes were sold compared to 28 individual season passes and 28 family season passes in 2009.

The sale of individual and family punch cards more than tripled from three years ago.

Despite the added usage, the pool was closed at least twice due to mechanical problems.

“We expected to run into a few unforeseen issues in our first season, but we never expected the issues to be as severe as they were,” said Kreklewich. “The first issue that we discovered was the pooling of water in the change areas and the slippery conditions it caused. The drains in the change areas of the building seemed inadequate, considering the level of water coming from both the showers and pool. As a cost-saving measure, the floors of the change areas were left as finished concrete instead of tile. This created a slip hazard when the water pooled on the floor.”

Kreklewich said matting on the walkway beside the showers helped alleviate slipping and the floors are now being acid-etched and painted with epoxy paint.

The pool was closed for a few days this summer due to a leak in the main drain box caused by water pressure.

To ensure the leak doesn’t occur again concrete was added underneath the box, the box seam repaired and a layer of pool membrane added to provide additional support.

At the end of the season, another leak was discovered in the pool in the main drain line from the pool crawl space to the mechanical room. This leak is being repaired as are superficial cracks in one of the hot tubs.

On July 13, in the middle of the pool’s busiest time, the boiler pump motor quit and the pool ran without heated water until July 20.

The pool operated regularly for the rest of the summer until Aug. 27 when the chlorine levels were below required operating levels.

The pool re-opened on Aug. 31 and closed for the season Sept. 3.

Changes made to the spray park included placing matting at the end of the slides to cushion the landing.

A second filter was also added to the mechanical vault.

Kreklewich said the area next to the tipping buckets needs to be landscaped to prevent water pooling there.

Despite mechanical issues, Kreklewich said the pool operated as closely as possible to the original schedule.

“We had the same schedule as in years past but included more aquafit times, a teen night and a free swim which was very well received sponsored by Value Drug Mart. The busiest times were the afternoon and evening public swims followed by the family swims.”

Despite a few ripples in its first season, Kreklewich said pool staff maintained constant levels of professionalism and expertise.

“We received a lot of positive comments about the staff and how they were aware on deck and great swimming lessons instructors,” he said. “One of the areas that we will try to improve upon is thorough training of staff on the pool mechanical.”

He said it was difficult during busy times for staff to be both guarding and attending to patrons at the front desk. He suggested keeping staff at the front counter on busy days and adding a debit machine as a method of payment.

Kreklewich is optimistic the pool will run smoothly next year.

“In 2013, the pool should be fully operational,” he told council. “We will have our leak issues fixed prior to winter. We plan on purchasing some new equipment including lane ropes, clock, aquafit supplies, office supplies, lifeguard supplies and various pool toys with the money provided by the Lions. New tables and chairs will be purchased for the pool meeting room. This will enhance what we currently provide at the pool.”