They just wanted to be seen, and heard. A group of residents rallied outside Vancouver City Hall Monday to make sure members of the VanSplash advisory committee know where they stand — keep the city’s small community pools open.
“We’re not going away and we don’t know if we have really any power whatsoever… and the only thing I know is we can’t shut up,” said Paula Shaw, who has been swimming at Lord Byng pool for more than a dozen years. “We have to keep making noise.”
The committee was assembled earlier this year to take a second look at Vancouver Park Board’s contentious VanSplash plan — the long-term outlook for the city’s pools, beaches and other aquatics amenities. The plan included a number of recommendations, including, in one draft, the closure of Lord Byng and Templeton pools. Groups of users from both facilities rallied in late 2017 and subsequent versions of the proposed plan kept the two pools open pending a review of the impacts of new pools and consultation with pools users and the community.
However, at a meeting in January 2018 commissioners voted to refer the plan back to staff for further consideration. A few months later, the park board announced it was striking an advisory committee to “assist in developing a revised version of VanSplash.”
The committee has been meeting since mid-January and had one of its last meetings Monday night. The committee will make a series of recommendations, which will be used to craft a revised VanSplash plan to be presented to park board commissioners for consideration in the fall.
Shaw said the group isn’t against building new, larger pools in the city. They just want to make sure that there is also room for the smaller community pools.
“At the very least don’t knock down [Lord Byng and Templeton],” she said. “Don’t knock down what won’t be replaced… So we’re here making noise. Showing up, doing what we can to say, ‘Hey, you’re not going to shut us up.’”
Dr. Larry Mroz has been swimming at Templeton Pool for 25 years. He also works in health research.
“It’s about building communities. Templeton is not just a pool, it’s a social place. People come there to meet — seniors, young people, kids doing triathlon,” he said. “Social isolation is the leading indicator for poor health for seniors, well [closing Templeton] will increase social isolation in our neighbourhood.”