After being closed for more than two years, the South Surrey Indoor Pool will open next month, the City of Surrey announced Tuesday afternoon.
The pool – the last of the city’s five indoor and eight outdoor aquatic facilities to still be closed after all were shut down in the spring of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic – will reopen on Sept. 20, the city announced in a news release.
“We look forward to welcoming the public back to the South Surrey Indoor Pool next month where we have an active population of seniors in this area who are excited to use this facility again,” said Mayor Doug McCallum.
“Thank you to the community for their patience and understanding as we focused on hiring and training staff and preparing for a safe reopening.”
While the city’s other pools – including South Surrey’s other facility, the Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre – began a “phased” approach to reopening in the summer of 2021, the South Surrey Indoor Pool remained closed. In the months since, city officials have repeatedly pointed to a lack of available lifeguards as the reason the facility’s doors remained closed, though some – including Coun. Linda Annis – have pushed back at the claim.
In February, Annis issued a news release criticizing the pool’s continued closure, and pointed to “the out-of-control costs of the mayor’s police transition” as the reason there was not a budget to reopen it.
“I estimate the real cost of the transition to be at least $200 million. That’s taxpayer money that isn’t available for pools, parks, rinks, and community centres, and that doesn’t even include the work that’s not being done to fix and maintain our city streets,” Annis said.
At the same time, Laurie Cavan, Surrey’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture, said that a dearth of lifeguards was not just a Surrey issue, but was “an ongoing challenge for many communities across the province.”
The South Surrey Indoor Pool – which was the Semiahmoo Peninsula’s only indoor pool until the Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre opened in 2016 – is popular among seniors in the area, many of whom were unhappy with the building’s extended closure.
Gary Worters, a White Rock senior who lives within walking distance of the South Surrey pool, told Peace Arch News in May that he thought the pool remained closed because a vast majority of its users pay seniors rates to use it, “so maybe it’s not economically viable to reopen it.”