This week, do your civic duty. Go to an outdoor pool. Pay your fee, or double if you can, and enjoy this all-too-brief summer experience.
Calgary’s outdoor pools have 80 days to make money. And they make most of it this month. As Mike Gavan, director of the outdoor pools, told me: “We’re praying for a great July.”
Like most Canadian cities, our outdoor pools are owned by the city. Unlike others, though, Calgary’s outdoor pools are run by community associations that keep profits, but take the risk of losses.
Get swimming. Use them or lose them.
In 2004, the pools were in jeopardy due to city budget cuts.
Communities formed the Outdoor Swimming Pools Association (COSPA). Together, this coalition gets a city grant ($437,000 this year) to finance capital costs and renovations.
Meanwhile, the communities are responsible for operating costs, such as hiring lifeguards. They can keep any profits at season’s end. Last year, four had surpluses, one broke even, and two took losses of about $1,000.
Only Silver Springs goes it alone. It wanted more control over its destiny so it negotiated its own agreement with the city.
Outdoor pools, in general, have a popularity problem. Some 23,000 people moved to Calgary last year alone, but you won’t find plans for any more outdoor pools. Do the math: Calgary has eight outdoor pools for one million people. The trend is toward splash pads, or pools with shallower wading areas that don’t need lifeguards.
It makes perfect sense. We’re a winter climate for 10 months of the year, so indoor swimming is logical.
To find a pool near you visit calgaryoutdoorpools.ca/pools.html.