East Van neighbourhood rallies against proposed demolition of Templeton pool

November 29, 2017

Jessica Kerr, Vancouver Courier, November 23, 2017 

Jason McGarry doesn’t mince words when he talks about the importance of his community’s pool.

“We’re calling on commissioners to step into a leadership role with this and become involved in better understanding the immediate and long-term damage to the community if this pool is closed,” he said.

Templeton Park Pool is close his heart. He used it extensively for rehabilitation after breaking his leg in a dirt biking accident several years ago. His children learned to swim and ride bikes there through the Exceleration: Triathlon and Multisport program.

He says it’s heavily used by seniors and children in the neighbourhood.

Vancouver’s park board is currently in the process of planning the future of the city’s pools and aquatic amenities. The board wrapped up its second round of public consultation in early October, and commissioners will consider final recommendations in December.

The current draft of the “VanSplash” plan includes replacing Templeton and Britannia with one pool on the Britannia site.

McGarry, who is also a board member at Hastings Community Centre, started a petition in the spring aimed at keeping Templeton open, and it now has 1,200 signatures. The cause has also gotten support from Vancouver-Hastings MLA Shane Simpson, who has penned a letter to park board commissioners.

“This facility, though small, is a well-used and loved neighbourhood resource,” the letter reads.

“While there is a pool at Britannia Community Centre and recreation facilities at Hastings Community Centre, that leaves a significant portion of the community without a neighbourhood pool,” he said, adding that removing the Templeton pool would mean some in the neighbourhood having to walk up to 30 minutes, or take more than one bus, to reach one of those community centres.
“That is a significant barrier for many of the seniors and other persons with mobility limitations,” Simpson wrote.

Last summer more than 4,500 residents and 60 groups took part in the first phase of public consultation.

Feedback from the second phase of consultation, which concluded Oct. 8, will be used in crafting a long-term plan for the city’s aquatic facilities.

The finalized recommendations will be presented to park board commissioners at the Dec. 11 meeting.

According to information provided by the park board, the pool at Templeton, as well as pools at Vancouver Aquatic Centre, Kerrisdale, Britannia and Lord Byng, are nearing the end of their lifespan, are the least used, least efficient and require the most investment to operate. These pools make up 34 per cent of all visits to indoor pools. Conversely, the city’s newest and renovated pools — Renfrew, Killarney and Hillcrest — are the best utilized and the most “financially efficient.”

The draft of the plan that was presented during the latest round of public consultation also includes demolishing Lord Byng pool and building a destination facility at Connaught Park, replacing the pool at Kerrisdale with a new one and replacing the Vancouver Aquatic Centre with a new wellness-oriented destination pool at the existing site.

Residents who use Lord Byng pool have also rallied against the closure of that location, gathering more than 1,000 signatures on a petition.

McGarry and Simpson both criticized the VanSplash survey used in the public consultation process.

“The Templeton pool represents a very diverse community and they’re definitely not represented in that survey because a lot of the people that use the facility are seniors and children that wouldn’t necessarily have access to the internet to even do the survey so the survey doesn’t really get the picture of what the community wants or needs are,” McGarry said.

As a member of the Hastings Community Association board, McGarry has been involved with the board’s negotiations with the park board over a new joint operating agreement. Hastings is one of several community centre associations that have not yet signed the agreement.

“If the park board truly wants to demonstrate a positive relationship/partnership moving forward with a new JOA this is not the way to go about it,” he said in an email.

“If the commissioners vote in favour of the VanSplash survey proposed recommendations of demolishing Templeton pool I cannot support the signing of the JOA and will strongly recommend that my fellow board members of the HCA do the same and not sign it”

@JessicaEKerr

jkerr@vancourier.com

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