Parents who bring children of the opposite sex into change rooms at local swimming pools appear to be challenging the comfort levels of certain patrons.
Early this year, after exiting the men’s shower at the Aquatic Centre, Bob Austin stumbled upon a father and his two daughters around age five in the locker area. The father and his girls then walked through the shower area, which was occupied by several men.
“This was the first incident of four that I have come across this year,” Austin states in a letter to The Record. “Most other men that I have spoken to are uncomfortable. Women have also faced mothers with boys as old as seven in the women’s change room, and often feel uncomfortable as well.”
Recently, Austin again faced a father and daughter changing just a few feet from his vicinity.
“I would not parade around naked in front of my five-year-old granddaughter, and I did not want to do the same in front of someone else’s granddaughter,” he writes.
“If there is a family change room, families must use it or go home,” Lynda James states in another letter.
The Comox Valley Regional District asks adults to accompany children under seven when using the sports and aquatic centres. It also encourages parents or guardians with children to use the universal change rooms.
“The CVRD also provides many options for changing, including private cubicles,” the RD said in an email statement to The Record.
The district says it regularly assesses its policies. It has reviewed Austin’s feedback by consulting other pool facilities around B.C. to collect information about age standards.
“Moving forward, management has recognized that there is an opportunity to work with stakeholders, user groups and patrons to re-evaluate our change room practices to make our recreation facilities more inclusive by identifying and removing or mitigating the barriers like the challenge raised by Mr. Austin.
“We value our patrons’ feedback and have every intention in keeping every person who uses our facilities safe and comfortable.”