Municipality yet to decide on whether pool will operate this summer

Photo by Joel Barde

Sun Peaks swimmers will have to wait at least another month to use the community’s municipal pool—and it’s still not a sure thing that it will operate this summer. 

Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality (SPMRM) Mayor Al Raine said there is still uncertainty around how the pool can operate under COVID-19 restrictions and what B.C.’s Restart Plan means specifically for small, local pools. 

The pool deck is relatively small, making social distancing between groups challenging, he said. 

“How do you isolate the groups?” said Raine, giving an example of one of the challenges facing the municipalities. 

“Two metres social distance would be very difficult, unless you are down to maybe 20 or 25 people.”

Municipal staff will gather information on the feasibility of opening up, and council will make a decision on going forward in about a month’s time, he said.  

Raine added while there are some problems with the pool floor, they are all fixable. The larger challenge is the heating/pump system, which hasn’t been used in the last three years.  

The municipal pool no longer opens in the winter, and last year’s summer season was cancelled due to the pandemic. 

The pool continues to be a major capital cost for the municipality, operating at around $100,000 loss each year, said Raine.

Speaking long-term, Raine said council may look at alternate models of operating it, given the challenges of doing so as a municipality. 

“Operating it as a public pool is difficult, as the regulations are almost prohibitive,” he said. “Many of the small communities [in B.C.] have already closed their pools.”

Local physiotherapist Kim Grunling is among many in the Sun Peaks community who are hoping to see the pool open up this season. 

Grunling said the pool offers a true family-friendly activity she can enjoy with all four of her kids, and it plays an important role in the overall well-being of the community. 

“The last two summers where the pool was open and they had the locals season pass was amazing,” said Grunling, who has four children between the ages of eight and 15 years old. 

“We probably went to the pool four to seven days a week, depending on the weather. It was an affordable activity for families and it got the kids active.” 

Grunling added in addition to being a great life skill, swimming offers a number of excellent health benefits for kids.  

“Swimming is probably the number one activity I recommend for gross motor development for kids,” said Grunling. “When they’re in the water, they get extra feedback from the water on their joints, and that allows them to develop their gross motor skills and figure out how their bodies can move in space.” 

In addition, swimming is great for older residents with mobility issues who are looking for a fun and healthy low-impact activity, she said.

Long-term, Grunling said she would like to see the community build an indoor pool. Over the last eight years, she and her partner have been transporting their kids to and from swimming lessons in Kamloops. 

“It would be nice to have the option to have access to a pool up here where they could run swimming lessons,” she said. “I’d like to see an actual indoor pool put in the development plan.”

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