First look at plans for the new Aquatic Park in Canora

Excitement continues to build as the Leisure Services board moves forward in planning for the new Aquatic Park in Canora, with the goal of opening in time for the 2022 season, said Aaron Herriges, director of leisure services.

Last September 15, Town Council made a resolution to “move forward with planning and construction of a new swimming pool facility.” Herriges said numerous factors were considered before making the decision to replace the present swimming pool, which originally opened in June 1972, including:

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  • History of the facility;
  • Current physical state;
  • Cost of operating, maintaining, preserving;
  • Income generated;
  • Financial position and funding options;
  • Local services and project time line;
  • Accessibility;
  • Safety;
  • Quality of life;
  • Commerce and tourism; and
  • Forward planning and sustainable future (residentially, commercially, industrially).

Structural, mechanical and geological problems, along with failed inspections, prompted the need for a structural and mechanical engineering assessment of the current Canora swimming pool.

“The findings of the assessment outlined that constructing a new facility would become more economically feasible than preserving the old,” said Herriges. “There is an intimidating list that would need to get done to prolong the pool’s life. Even if some of the major repairs were made to the existing structure, the results of repairs may cause additional or larger issues, and the repairs would be ongoing for the rest of the pool’s life. In the end we would still be left with an aging facility.”

Since the pool is such an important community feature, those on council felt it was important to look at the present and into the future.

“Aside from the issues of the existing structure; there are many more additional benefits that come along with constructing a new park that helped make the decision easier for town council,” detailed Herriges. “The new Aquatic Park provides an accessible, safe, and enjoyable environment for all ages. The conceptual design addresses the needs and wants of our community along with its operators.”

Herriges said he is thrilled with the features provided in the plans for families and individuals with mobility issues.

“The accessible facility will allow them, from the moment they leave their vehicle, to not have to encounter any steps up or down while at the facility. For example, waterproof wheel chairs could be rolled from the parking lot curb, through the service building, to the centre of the 82 F leisure pool with the zero entry access points, which also connects to the junior Olympic size lap pool.”

The leisure pool starts at zero depth, and gradually increases to three-and-a-half feet, for ease of movement.

In addition to easy accessibility, the Aquatic Park, designed by Western Recreation, features a four lane junior Olympic lap pool, which is the same length as the existing pool, but two lanes narrower, and will be connected to the leisure pool.

A separate Tot Pool with a depth of zero to 10 inches is located at the entrance to the leisure pool. “This area has an overflowing retaining wall that is great for reducing concerns for the little ones,” said Herriges.

The leisure pool area includes Western Recreation’s standard spray features: two geysers, a tipping bucket, and an umbrella sprayer.

“Another fun feature is the peanut shaped jet powered vortex pool, which is great for all ages who want to relax and let the pool do the work.”

A signature feature will be different water slides that empty into a slide alcove portion of the pool.

“This alcove has a bench divider for family members that want to wait for someone coming off the slide. The two different slides consist of one 110-foot spiral flume water slide and one 36- foot double straight water slide.”

Herriges pointed out that the new Aquatic Park is expected to result in long term benefits throughout Canora.

“This project will give our community a new and exciting look,” he enthused. “In consultations with other communities, these types of parks are great attractions and bring in outside money into the community. Local businesses will no doubt see an uptick of traffic and increased commerce in town.”

Herriges said this durable new style of pool is expected to last significantly longer than the one-piece concrete basin design of Canora’s existing pool.

“There is an encased service space around the entire pool that won’t be susceptible to ground sloughing and excess moisture,” he explained. “The most prevalent difference in concept is that it is a padded PVC membrane system on a slab that is separate from the walls and can adjust to adverse ground conditions like high water table, freeze-thaw cycles, earth tremors, and unstable soil conditions. The PVC membrane absorbs any ground movement, whereas the existing basin is a one-piece structure and not really designed to adjust to any geological condition change. All mechanical components, pool deck skimmers, and drains will be accessible for repair or replacement if ever need be. If, 20 years from now, the Town wants to change the membrane, that option will be available.”

Since council made the initial resolution to proceed with the project, Herriges said there has been ongoing work on a number of fronts, starting with gathering information.

“We received feedback on user traffic, community response, and financial benefits from other communities in similar situations. It’s a trend that is happening right now. Many of Saskatchewan’s municipal pools were built around the same time as our present facility and many have to make similar decisions.

“Councillor Sweeney, Councillor Gabora, and I visited Western Recreation’s development site of Langenburg’s new Aquatic Park. They were in the construction phase of the basin walls and they had their service building already up.

“We had open discussion and idea generation with the Canora Leisure Services board members, comprised of local volunteer citizens, who have provided perspectives and great ideas that will help shape the project to suit our community’s needs. Their invaluable contributions will be ongoing throughout the duration of this project.”

On October 22, Town Council signed a design contract with Western Recreation, who then started working on design ideas to be utilized for budgeting and planning other aspects of the project.

“Using perspective from the Leisure Services Board and Town Council, I submitted an introductory list of requests to Western Rec so they could come up a preliminary design,” reported Herriges. “Conceptual designs were presented to Town Council to help establish a budget for the project. A request for a new design was made with significant alterations. A new design was presented to Town Council and was approved, along with the budget.”

Engineered drawings will be submitted to the town in April. The Leisure Services board has expressed pleasure with the new design and is using the information to help shape the rest of the project, including: 

  • The layout of the ancillary service building; which houses the mechanical room, office, staff rooms, family rooms and locker rooms;                                                                                
  • Family rooms are a feature we haven’t had before. Parent or guardians will have a private room to dress their young children of the opposite sex.
  • parking for cars and bikes; preliminary plans are in place to address this;
  • sun shelter structure near the zero entry pool deck;
  • pool deck finishes;
  • landscaping, green space;
  • rates, promotions, schedules;
  • youth, senior, and family programs;
  • business and community involvement;
  • added play structures (tot slide, rock climber);
  • added mechanical infrastructure;
  • signage; and
  • other recreational amenities.

The new Aquatic Park will be at the same location as the existing pool, but with a different layout. The new pool will have just over thousand more square feet of space than the two combined existing pools.

“This project is just another wonderful reason to live in Canora and area,” said a smiling Herriges. “We are focused on providing our citizens relaxing spaces to enjoy their free time.”

He said the goals of the project are:

  • to ensure the community is provided with this service for next 50-plus years;
  • to provide a recreational space for all ages that is accessible, safe, and enjoyable while aiming to be the outdoor recreational hub for the area;
  • to provide more program options for our community.
  • to enhance the community profile, which will in turn, attract new business, residents, and tourism;
  • to partner with local business and industry; and
  • to establish funding support from Canora and area.

The aim is to contract local for as much of the work and materials as possible. Any interested individuals, businesses, industries, or Rural Municipalities are encouraged to get involved in any way they can. An incentive program is in place for anyone who wants to contribute to the project. For monetary and in-kind sponsorship, the incentives increase relative to the sponsorship amount.

“Here is an example of a great offer for a single family,” said Herriges. “For $500 you will receive a charitable tax receipt, standard press and media acknowledgements, one family season pass to the new park ($250 value), and your name will be listed on sponsor signage at the park. “For industries and businesses that would like to show their support and display their name, we can offer naming rights of the service building, water slides, play equipment, gazebo and so on. We can also offer catered events, corporate passes, and day rentals, to name a few options. I encourage anyone or business that is interested in being a partner in this project to contact Canora Leisure Services.”