Comox Valley swimmers frustrated with booking system

A Comox Valley couple is urging the Recreation Commission to re-open the Aquatic Centre for lane swimming and rehab.

In a presentation at the Jan. 26 commission meeting, Eleanor Nesling said the Sports Centre pool does not meet the needs of swimmers because time slots are filled within seconds of becoming available.

She said the situation worsened when lap swimming slots were removed in the new year to make way for other programs.

“This is extremely frustrating to those of us who are swimming to maintain our physical, mental and emotional health in these difficult times,” Eleanor said. “I spent part of my husband’s (Seamus) birthday lunch watching the clock so I could book swimming times 10 days away.”

She notes many pool users are seniors who are unable to enjoy other forms of exercise such as running or tennis. Due to the minimal stress on joints, swimming is the only suitable form of exercise for those recovering from injury or surgeries, or for those with limitations.

Eleanor also noted the large number of snowbirds who have stayed home this year. According to World Health Organization guidelines, she said people should be exercising as much as possible during the pandemic.

“To do this in the better ventilated Aquatic Centre would be beneficial,” Eleanor said. “When we don’t swim, our fitness levels deteriorate. We have a pool sitting idle. Please let’s use it.”

From research she has conducted, Eleanor has found no evidence of COVID transmission associated with pools, as long as healthy environments are maintained.

Courtenay director Melanie McCollum asked if booking a series of four times, for example, would be a better option. Seamus said this type of option would relieve some of the stress.

“It’s been hard on the whole community,” commission chair Daniel Arbour said.

Area B director Arzeena Hamir asked about extra capacity in the Sports Centre. Jennifer Zbinden, manager of recreation services, said the district has added extra swimming times on weekends. The CVRD could again try adding later lanes starting at 9 p.m., which had not been used when first introduced.

Courtenay director Doug Hillian said the issue will need to be referred to staff to explore possibilities.

Scott Stanfield

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Scott Stanfield

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