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Future of Edmonton’s city hall wading pool to be decided

Proposed design of Edmonton’s Sir Winston Churchill Square wading pool.
The depth of the Sir Winston Churchill Square wading pool at Edmonton’s city hall is still up for debate.

Edmonton city council will vote next week on how the rehabilitation of the 25-year-old Sir Winston Churchill Square wading pool, located in front of city hall, will be handled, as a number of standards, codes, and policies must be addressed.

The initial plans, finalized in late 2017, were to see the wading pool’s water level reduced to 150 mm (6 in.) from its current 400 mm (16 in.) depth at a cost of $13 million. Based on the design, the project was expected to take 13 months to complete.

According to a report released by the city, despite how the new design would conform to provincial legislated pool standards and building codes, city council and the public have raised questions concerning the potential loss of the venue’s current functionality.

Since the wading pool contains standing water, regardless of depth, it must adhere to all provincial pool standards. According to the report, the flowrate of the current design exceeds the requirement by approximately 10 times. In terms of filtration, the turnover rate for the wading pool must occur every two hours. Currently, it takes approximately three hours to turn over the water.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) has been working with the city to update all public pools to ensure they are compliant with its legislative anti-entrapment and filtration standards by November 2019.

In addition to addressing these standards, the project also has to take into account the current Alberta Building Code (ABC) requirements for pools with respect to fencing, white surfaces, accessibility, and sanitary facilities.

To maintain the wading pool’s current depth, while meeting the AHS and ABC standards, the report outlined the following alternatives: a white basin, accommodations for universal accessibility, and an enhanced filtration system to handle the larger volume of water. This would cost the city an additional $400,000 and take approximately four to six months longer to complete. Another option forgoes the fence and, instead, employs 24-hour, on-site security personnel. The $400,000 would still be necessary to upgrade the wading pool and its equipment, while the security service is estimated to cost $121,000.

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