BY BILL PHILLIPS
If you’ve ever had an old beloved car that was nickling and diming you to death, then you know what it’s like to own the Four Seasons Pool.
At some point in time you have to evaluate whether it makes sense to keep adding new parts to a crumbling frame. Like the old saying goes, it’s throwing good money after bad, says architect Doug Wournell, of Dialoque which created the city’s aquatic needs assessment.
And crumbling is an adequate decision. Inside the bowels of the Four Seasons Pool, it’s evident that the concrete tank, which holds the water, is decaying. The humidity and chemicals involved with the pool are working away at the actual tank with leachate prevalent. In one spot, there is an actual leak and in another corner of the tank, a rather large crack.
“There’s no way we can fix this,” said Wournell of the leachate. “There’s no way we can come in scour these areas and make this right again. Over time, we’d start to see some structural problems and we would have to do patchwork pieces of steel in here in order to hold the walls together. Nothing imminent, nothing to worry about in the next few years. But eventually, this pool tank will fall apart.”
The city is seeking approval to borrow up to $35 million to build a new pool on the Days Inn site and demolish the Four Seasons Pool.
The mechanical areas Four Seasons Pool are old, outdated and cramped. There isn’t enough room, he said, to add the new equipment to update the pool. The old equipment, which is still the original equipment from the 1970s, won’t be used in a new pool.
“It is basically at the very end of its life as far as being efficient,” he said. “The problem is how do you replace this kind of equipment when you’re down below everything.”
Another problem with the Four Seasons Pool is that it was built during a time when accessibility wasn’t even an afterthought, it just wasn’t considered.
“There’s only really three ways to get into this building,” he said. “From the parking lot, which is where most people come, there’s no ability for anyone with mobility issues to get up those stairs, and even if they do, once they get in the building they have to come up another set of stairs.”
The alternative, for those parking in the parking lot, is to go all the way around the building and use a ramp that is tough to climb even for wheelchair athletes, never mind seniors or others with mobility issues. Or use the main entrance.
Once inside the main doors, there is another set of stairs which, at least, has a lift. However, the lift is slow, requires an attendant to unlock, and doesn’t accommodate scooters.
“No matter how you look at, if you’re a person with mobility issues, this is an inaccessible pool,” Wournell said.
A new pool, if passed in the referendum, will be largely built to grade, which means no huge sets of stairs like the current pool.
“(At a new pool) there will be nothing to impede (those with mobility issues), you don’t have to wait for someone to get you, you don’t have to wait for a contraption, you come into the pool, pay, change and go out into the pool deck area.”
In addition, he said, there will be ramps into the teach pools and therapy pools so there will be no barriers.
The design for the new pool will also include family change rooms that are designed to be family change rooms. Currently, the Four Seasons Pool uses a normal change room which has been retrofitted. The result is a very cramped family change room.
Prince George residents will vote October 28 on whether to replace the pool.