The Comox Valley aquatic centre is getting a major overhaul.

On Tuesday, the Comox Valley Regional District recreation commission endorsed using the COVID-19 closure period at the pool, to complete facility upgrades. 

The pool is expected to remain closed until the fall.

“Our goal this year is to focus on balancing the needs of community safety during COVID-19 and ensure the recreation facilities can manage the pandemic financially to ensure sustainable services in the short and long term,” explains senior manager of recreation services, Jennifer Zbinden. 

“We will continue to offer activities at the Sports Centre which has remained open through the pandemic, while making improvements to the Aquatic Center during the spring and summer before the anticipated reopening in fall 2021. The proposed budget achieves this goal through maximizing available reserve funds. The downtime provides an opportunity for staff to undertake upgrades, which over the longer term will help minimize future closures.”

The CVRD says to meet COVID-19 health requirements and safety guidelines, the costs to operate the recreation facilities are much greater than previous. 

Meanwhile, the district says that reduced revenues and reduced capacity to meet social distancing requirements has the recreation service “operating at a net deficit just to keep the Sports Centre open.” 

The Sports Centre has been operating throughout the pandemic at a similar cost as operating both facilities. 

The CVRD says opening the pool when seasonal revenues are at their lowest would be too costly and would affect future recreation service delivery in the region.

A facility assessment is currently underway for the aquatic centre to refine the project plans and ensure efficient use of available funds during the closure. 

As well, a grant application was submitted in early 2021 for Sports Centre upgrades. 

The district says if it’s successful this grant could “provide procurement and project management efficiencies for both facilities, as well as reduce future funding pressures to upgrade and maintain these facilities with aging infrastructure.” 

Projects identified to improve accessibility and ongoing facility service life at the Aquatics Centre include:

  • Upgrading to LED lighting
  • Replace ageing epoxy pool deck and change rooms
  • Replacement of roof
  • Rust remediation on architectural structure and other mechanical upgrades to ensure ongoing service life to the facility and minimize future down time as determined by assessment
  • Replacement of sound system
  • Installation of electric vehicle charging station

For more on the 2021-2025 recreation financial plan click here.

You can register for available spaces at the sports centre here.