Central Park: Shooting pool

Swimmers who frequent Lord Byng Pool are upset the park board is closing the facility for July and August for maintenance.

Tom Perry, the spokeswimmer for the ad hoc group, questions the need to close the pool for so long.

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Its crazy that we live in such a wealthy city, but such a beautiful facility is closed 18 per cent of the year, says Perry. Its close enough for me to walk there for a swim before work, which is why I bought my pass.

Perry, a former NDP MLA for Vancouver Point Grey, where the pool is located, adds more than 300 residents have signed a petition asking the park board to reverse that decision. He says the oldest swimmer he knows who uses the pool is 93.

This is disturbing that they would do this, says Perry.

In a letter to the park board, and copied to all city councillors, Perry writes the closure prevents people from exercising and also ruptures poolside friendships between cultural groups.

Perry describes the lengthy closure as retrogressive.

I am a 27-year resident of the neighbourhood who pays my taxes early and does not defer them, the 61-year-old Perry writes. I am also a pool subscriber and had no sooner renewed my one-year pass than found out I would lose two months of service.

Vision Vancouver vice-chair of the board Aaron Jasper says there are two reasons the pool is being closed for so long.

He says the pool was already scheduled to be closed for up to four weeks as part of the boards cost-saving efforts. The park board is closing some facilities, including community centres and pools, for short periods of time and cutting hours at others as a way to save money. But, he adds, because Lord Byng pool is in need of some major renovations it was decided to close it for two months during a time well documented as having low attendance. The silver lining, says Jasper, is theres an extensive amount of work that will get done.

That work includes repairs to the plumbing, electrical system, tiling, sauna and change rooms.

Staff felt that with all of our outdoor pools open for summer, theyd have a choice of other places to go, says Jasper.

Meanwhile, the 300-plus Lord Byng swimmers are threatening a protest march wearing nothing but their bathing suits. Theyve dubbed the idea, Critical Stride, a play on the monthly Critical Mass bike ride that clogs streets and stops traffic as a way to highlight a need for more bike lanes in the city.

Perry is encouraging anyone with an interest in keeping the pool open during the summer to email the park board at pbcomments@vancouver.ca.

March merch

The Vancouver Dyke March and Festival Society is asking the park board for permission to invite merchandise vendors to sell their wares at Grandview Park on Commercial Drive during their annual event to help offset costs.

Each year, the event begins with a march from McSpadden Park on Victoria Drive to Grandview Park where the family and dog-friendly festival is held. The society has also requested permission for a liquor license for a beer garden that will hold a maximum of 200 people, for the hours of 1 to 5 p.m.

The Vancouver Dyke March, which this year starts at noon Aug. 4, is just one event leading up to Pride Week in the city. Events are already ongoing and a schedule can be found at vancouverpride.ca.

sthomas@vancourier.com

Twitter: @sthomas10

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