The Beltline Aquatic and Fitness Centre, pictured in Calgary on Monday, Aug. 12, is slated to be closed as of Jan. 1, 2020.
Darren Makowichuk / Postmedia
The City of Calgary has issued public notices about the slated closure of community pools in Inglewood and the Beltline at the end of this year.According to statements posted on the websites of the Beltline Aquatic & Fitness Centre and the Inglewood Aquatic Centre, both facilities are scheduled to close Jan. 1, 2020.“The age and condition of this facility no longer meet current service level expectations and changing citizen preferences have resulted in limited and declining participation,” the notices state.During budget-cut discussions last month, city council opted to continue funding two un-named pools proposed for closure until the end of the year, to allow time for consultation with the affected communities.Naomi Withers, communications director for the Inglewood Community Association, said the group is scheduled to meet with city staff next week. The association is also continuing with efforts to rally community support to keep the Inglewood facility open, including a neighbourhood pool party planned for Aug. 25. Withers said one of the potential options to keep the pool open would be getting third parties to take ownership of the centre.“The city hasn’t given us any indication from our communication with them that it’s a closed issue,” Withers said.She added that the swimming pool is a “lifeline” for some community members.“It’s the after-school program for kids that allows mums and dads to work full-time hours. It’s really important for our seniors — that’s how they get their fitness and how they access community, how they get together with their friends,” Withers said.“And then it’s a hub for summer camps, for exercise. . . It’s something that’s accessible to every age, and it’s our only City of Calgary recreation facility in Inglewood. So, to lose that will mean that our community will have no recreation facilities available to them within a walking or biking distance.”
Inglewood Aquatic Centre, pictured on July 24, 2019. (Brendan Miller/Postmedia)
Brendan Miller /
The city notices state that there will not be any changes to the hours of operation of either facility before Jan. 1, 2020. Fall recreation programs, classes and bookings will go ahead.“In the New Year, we encourage you to visit one of our other indoor pools, fitness, and leisure centres,” the notices read.Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said when the city had a conversation with the community several years ago about the possibility of closing the Inglewood pool, “there was a lot of love expressed for the pool.”“So we agreed that we would explore trying to find ways to bring the utilization up and bring the per-user subsidy in line with what we’re seeing throughout the rest of the city’s recreation assets,” he said. “And we haven’t been able to get there. And so in this age of trying to find cuts to protect our small-business base, it’s back on the chopping block.”Carra said while the pool is a “beloved asset,” it’s also under-utilized and highly subsidized by the city.“We made the decision to fund them not until September 1st, which was administration’s recommendation, but to the end of the year, to buy us some time to sit down and have conversations with each of the communities,” Carra added. “Everyone loves the asset, everyone recognizes it’s very expensive and hard to maximize utilization. . . We’ll have a conversation and see where that goes.”Withers said while the pool might be under-utilized, “it needs to be open for the people that need it.”“It’s still an amazing community resource,” she said. “However old the facility is, people use it every single day, and so to lose that resource would be really sad for our community and the users of the pool, which go beyond Inglewood.”An online petition to save the swimming pools had gathered about 1,000 signatures as of Monday evening.