By Dave Mabell
Alberta Newspaper Group
On a hot summer day, children head to the nearest swimming pool. For families in Coaldale, a trip to Lethbridge has become their closest option this year. After hearing details of a filtration system breakdown at Coaldale’s outdoor pool, town council ordered it closed for the year.
That closure could continue next summer as well, said Mayor Kim Craig, unless the 47-year-old facility can be repaired at an affordable price. No pool is included in current plans for a new recreation centre, he added. But that project will be the focus of community forum sessions this fall.
Meeting in emergency session recently, Coaldale council decided against attempting immediate repairs allowing the pool to reopen. “This is a tough situation,” Craig said. “We never like to close down a facility mid-season.”
“However, council felt to invest $190,000 to $300,000 in repairs to a 47-year-old pool, under an extremely tight construction window — just so we have the chance of opening again the second or third week of August — isn’t worth the financial risk.”
Rather than laying off the pool’s lifeguards, councillors decided to find other work for them to do for the town, as well as serving as “chaperones” on a once-a-day bus run to the outdoor pool in Stirling. The ride would be free, but Coaldale residents would pay the same fees — $6 for adults, $5 for under 18 — as at their old pool.
In the interim, Craig said, Coaldale hopes to work out arrangements with nearby communities. The Stirling proposal was the first to be considered.
“The Stirling outdoor pool, waterslide and sun deck is one of the most popular and well-used amenities in our community during the summer months,” said the village’s mayor, Trevor Lewington.
“We’re pleased to support the Town of Coaldale and their kids’ aquatic programming by providing access to our pool facilities to ensure everyone gets the chance to make a splash.” Craig said Coaldale has partnered with Stirling and the Palliser Regional Schools Division to provide one 70-passenger bus, which will leave the Coaldale pool parking lot at 1 p.m. — weekdays only — until the end of August. Once the service begins, likely by July 29, the return trip would arrive at about 4:30 p.m.
Details for the bus service are not yet finalized, but Coaldale parents will be asked to sign a permission form allowing their children to board the bus under care of the chaperones.