The newly renovated pool in Nelson is back to regular programming

After a six-month closure, renovations to the pool area at Nelson's community complex are being enjoyed by the community.

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Following a six-month closure, the pool at the Nelson and District Community Complex (NDCC) is back to scheduled programming. The difference is amazing. Gone is the old ceiling, replaced with one that is 10 feet higher, bringing the space to life. The bright new white trusses covered with an acoustical treatment make the space feel larger, brighter and cleaner.

Joe Chirico, general manager of community services for the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK), said the NDCC held a community appreciation day on September 7. The whole complex was free to the public from 1 to 4 p.m.

"The improvements haven't changed what we can offer, but what people can look forward to is getting back to regular programming," said Chirico. "We're back up to a full schedule again for swim lessons, our masters swim is back and the people that were using the pool for exercise now have access again. The pool is very important to many people that are mobility challenged or have challenges with weightbearing activities. The pool is their safe form of recreation."

Necessary repairs

The closure was due to a partial failure of the previous false ceiling in the pool on January 28, 2013. Thankfully no one was injured when the tiles came down, but the pool was occupied at the time.

"It was difficult for the public and for the staff to close the pool," said Chirico. "It's one thing when you plan a shutdown, but it's another thing when it happens unexpectedly. We've heard from the public they are very happy with the changes that have taken place. Of course, everyone wished it could've taken place more quickly, but oftentimes doing things right takes time."

The reason why the renovation took so much time was because the RDCK's first concern was if the building's ceiling tiles contained asbestos or the paint on the original trusses contained lead. Testing showed there were in fact hazardous materials to deal with. Chirico said the goal of the architectural and building team was to design the ceiling so workers wouldn't have to go back up for another 20 years.

"The difference between the old ceiling and new ceiling is one of those funny things," said Chirico. "We're not adding any new components into the building, but what we've heard from customers is the facility is brighter, looks cleaner and is more spacious because the ceiling is essentially 10 feet higher than before. We've used new technologies so we know we are more energy efficient now. We're using LED lighting instead of the old T-12s. We also believe it's going to eventually improve air quality, because we believe our air handling systems will work better in this environment, which is very important."

Another shutdown

Unfortunately, another shutdown (this time planned) will be taking place in the near future.

"2013 was supposed  to be  planning year for a major shutdown, which was going to include the removal of the ceiling and doing what we did, but it also would require other changes to the building," Chirico said. "So unfortunately we are into another planning process for another shutdown and we're just about to enter into a public consultation phase on what and when that will be."

Over the course of the next month, public meetings on the master plan process will start to take place. Chirico encourages the public to get involved and give the RDCK input on the next phase of changes to the building. The next phase will include the majority of work still to be done in the pool, but there will also be changes to the way the whole building functions.

Once the meetings have been organized, the public is encouraged to keep an eye open for press releases in the local papers and to visit the RDCK website.

"The reason why we didn't call the re-opening just that was because we plan to have a grand re-opening celebration after the next phase of work," Chirico said. "We very much appreciate the community's patience and hope they enjoy the regular programming that is happening now."

Karen Kornelsen

Karen Kornelsen, a writer for Kootenay Business Magazine, has a degree in jounalism. She enjoys finding and reporting the news from the business community. View all of Karen Kornelsen’s articles

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