An outdoor asset for Castlegar

The community of Castlegar has a new recreation area through the Natural Swimming Ponds project in Millennium Park

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Young or old, residents and visitors to Castlegar, B.C., have a beautiful and safe new area on the Columbia River to enjoy. Located in Millenium Park, the Natural Outdoor Swimming Ponds consist of three separate pools. Ground-filtered well water is drawn from alongside the Columbia River during the day and descends through the pools before returning to the river. At night the water is redirected into the Millennium Park irrigation system, which reduces the load on the city’s water system while saving chlorinated water from entering the adjacent river.

A grand opening celebration for the ponds was held August 4, 2014. The city estimates that approximately 2,500 people attended the event, which included an unveiling ceremony and games along with hundreds of rubber ducks in the top pool.

“People got to look at it and I can tell you we heard nothing but great comments about the ponds themselves and the surrounding area—what it looks like and what the future is,” said Lawrence Chernoff, the mayor of Castlegar. “It's just off the downtown core and, to me, it’s an ideal location. The views are absolutely spectacular, so I think it's a great opportunity for the community (and) it's a great opportunity for the downtown.”

The project, which cost about $1.6 million, was subject to lots of public input before being built. A safe, recreational beach area was identified as a priority. The top pond is designed for use by youngsters and their families with a depth of 0.7 metres, while the middle pond is designed for teenagers and adults. The bottom pond, the largest of the three, has a depth of 3.6 metres and has small waterslides. Each pool is surrounded by sand. The surrounding area also has sports fields, an outdoor workout area, benches and picnic tables. It has quickly become a popular area for anyone looking to enjoy the Columbia River or just a stroll in Castlegar’s beautiful outdoors.

“I think if you haven't been to the Millennium Ponds by all means come down and just see exactly what happened and how it's developed,” said Chernoff. “It's just made it so much safer and so much nicer and so much more enjoyable. . . . You can have a picnic and just have a great family time. And I think that's really what it's all about.”

Kristen Mitchell

Kristen studied at College of the Rockies in Cranbrook and has worked in a variety of industries, from agriculture to construction, retail to restaurants. She now brings her understanding of the area to Kootenay Business magazine. View all of Kristen Mitchell’s articles

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