Two-year Valley Park pool closure stuns users

News Jul 21, 2019 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

For Barb Hexemer, there’s no better way to start the day than in the pool.

“It makes you feel great,” the Stoney Creek senior said. “You start your day off so good. It makes you feel so much better after you’re done your swimming, your exercising. You’re ready to go.”

But today Hexemer and several other regulars who attend early-morning adult swim sessions at Valley Park Recreation Centre are concerned they could be forced to give up one of their favourite pastimes. Earlier this month, the City of Hamilton announced the recreation centre – including the indoor pool – will close for two years to allow for an $8.1-million rehabilitation of the Paramount Drive complex. The rec centre closure is scheduled for Sept. 3, with an expected completion date by fall 2021. The project also includes a major expansion of the attached Valley Park Library and a dehumidifier upgrade at the Valley Park Arena.

Hexemer started a petition and gathered over 125 names of pool users opposed to the two-year closure.

“It’s really going to hurt,” said Hexemer. “I’ve been going for 13 years and I’ve met a lot of nice friends. It’s tough. Valley Park is the one that has the most early-morning swims for seniors. And that’s a big deal.”

Pool patron Lori Frank said that while many recreation centre users were aware of the renovation project, the two-year time frame came as a shock.

“Just a phased-in approach could have accommodated people a little bit better,” she said.

The early-morning swims at Valley Park allow Frank to start her day with morning exercises before heading off to work at 8 a.m. And while pool patrons have been told they can access sessions at other city rec centres, Frank said the extra travel time could make her late for work.

Don Desrochers lives in the area of Dewitt Road and Highway 8, near the city-owned H.G. Brewster Pool, but drives to Valley Park for its accessibility features. A right-leg amputee, Desrochers has also overcome bypass surgery, cancer and pneumonia. The morning swims at Valley Park are vital, he said, to help keep up his upper-body strength.

“That’s one of the ways I stay fit,” said Desrochers. “Other than that, I have no other form of exercise that I do or are really capable of doing.”

Valley Park also offers wider swimming lanes than many other city pools, said Desrochers, which he needs to accommodate his disability. Although he also swims at the Stoney Creek Recreation Centre, Desrochers said that facility lacks the wider lanes.

Budh Dhillon attends Valley Park’s early-morning adult swims four times a week. He recently renewed his city recreation pass for the year, before finding out about the Valley Park closure.

“The closure for two years, I think, is unreasonable,” he said.

Pool patron Bruce Cowan said the early-morning swims attract many seniors who may have difficulties accessing other facilities.

“It is a concern,” he said. “We just found out about it a couple of weeks ago. Apparently, it’s been on the books for a while, but I guess it was one of those things. It took us by surprise.”

“It’s going to hurt a lot of people socially as well,” Cowan added. People are very concerned about that.”

Laura Kerr, manager of program development in the city’s recreation division, said the city empathizes with pool users. But due to the extensive work required for the rec centre and library expansion, the roughly two-year closure is unavoidable.

“We’re completely empathetic to the disruption that this causes to a number of individuals that access the centre; however, we’re confident and excited for what the outcome will be in the end,” said Kerr.

Due to the structural work, and the shared mechanical systems within the complex, completing the work in stages in order to keep the pool open longer wasn’t an option, said Kerr.

Although staff have found a way to prevent ice cancellations at the attached Valley Park Arena, no such arrangement could be made for the pool.

“Unfortunately, because the pool is so tied into those mechanical systems that will be worked on, we won’t be able to keep that isolated and open during that time,” Kerr said.

Kerr noted the library will expand to 12,600 square feet and the rec centre will see the addition of another 3,000 square feet of community program space. The project includes updating the pool’s mechanical components, which date back to 1990, including heat exchangers, filters and boilers. Kerr said completing all of the work concurrently allows the city to mobilize and reduce costs, while using the same contractors for the library as the rec centre.

“It allows us to save time as well,” she said.

Once work is completed, pool users should see improvements in the air quality and filtration, plus the addition of new, accessible washrooms.

“They’re also going to see some more consistency in the pool temperature; we’ve been struggling with that for a number of years,” Kerr added. 

To offset the loss of pool programs at Valley Park, the Stoney Creek Creek Recreation Centre, Huntington Park Recreation Centre and some other smaller centres will see added programs.

“Valley (Park) is one of our top-utilized centres,” said Kerr. “We’ve definitely expanded the programming at many centres around it.”

Huntington Park will have early-morning adult swims four days a week, which will be reflected on the fall schedule, due out in August.

Kerr said Huntington Park should also be able to accommodate pool users like Desrochers, who require wider swimming lanes. Both Huntington Park and Stoney Creek rec centres have adult accessible devices and accommodations.

City staff will monitor pool program attendance, said Kerr, and could add additional programs at other rec centres if demand warrants them.

Two-year closure of Stoney Creek's Valley Park pool stuns users

Renovation timelines unavoidable, city says

News Jul 21, 2019 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

For Barb Hexemer, there’s no better way to start the day than in the pool.

“It makes you feel great,” the Stoney Creek senior said. “You start your day off so good. It makes you feel so much better after you’re done your swimming, your exercising. You’re ready to go.”

But today Hexemer and several other regulars who attend early-morning adult swim sessions at Valley Park Recreation Centre are concerned they could be forced to give up one of their favourite pastimes. Earlier this month, the City of Hamilton announced the recreation centre – including the indoor pool – will close for two years to allow for an $8.1-million rehabilitation of the Paramount Drive complex. The rec centre closure is scheduled for Sept. 3, with an expected completion date by fall 2021. The project also includes a major expansion of the attached Valley Park Library and a dehumidifier upgrade at the Valley Park Arena.

Hexemer started a petition and gathered over 125 names of pool users opposed to the two-year closure.

“It’s really going to hurt,” said Hexemer. “I’ve been going for 13 years and I’ve met a lot of nice friends. It’s tough. Valley Park is the one that has the most early-morning swims for seniors. And that’s a big deal.”

Pool patron Lori Frank said that while many recreation centre users were aware of the renovation project, the two-year time frame came as a shock.

“Just a phased-in approach could have accommodated people a little bit better,” she said.

The early-morning swims at Valley Park allow Frank to start her day with morning exercises before heading off to work at 8 a.m. And while pool patrons have been told they can access sessions at other city rec centres, Frank said the extra travel time could make her late for work.

Don Desrochers lives in the area of Dewitt Road and Highway 8, near the city-owned H.G. Brewster Pool, but drives to Valley Park for its accessibility features. A right-leg amputee, Desrochers has also overcome bypass surgery, cancer and pneumonia. The morning swims at Valley Park are vital, he said, to help keep up his upper-body strength.

“That’s one of the ways I stay fit,” said Desrochers. “Other than that, I have no other form of exercise that I do or are really capable of doing.”

Valley Park also offers wider swimming lanes than many other city pools, said Desrochers, which he needs to accommodate his disability. Although he also swims at the Stoney Creek Recreation Centre, Desrochers said that facility lacks the wider lanes.

Budh Dhillon attends Valley Park’s early-morning adult swims four times a week. He recently renewed his city recreation pass for the year, before finding out about the Valley Park closure.

“The closure for two years, I think, is unreasonable,” he said.

Pool patron Bruce Cowan said the early-morning swims attract many seniors who may have difficulties accessing other facilities.

“It is a concern,” he said. “We just found out about it a couple of weeks ago. Apparently, it’s been on the books for a while, but I guess it was one of those things. It took us by surprise.”

“It’s going to hurt a lot of people socially as well,” Cowan added. People are very concerned about that.”

Laura Kerr, manager of program development in the city’s recreation division, said the city empathizes with pool users. But due to the extensive work required for the rec centre and library expansion, the roughly two-year closure is unavoidable.

“We’re completely empathetic to the disruption that this causes to a number of individuals that access the centre; however, we’re confident and excited for what the outcome will be in the end,” said Kerr.

Due to the structural work, and the shared mechanical systems within the complex, completing the work in stages in order to keep the pool open longer wasn’t an option, said Kerr.

Although staff have found a way to prevent ice cancellations at the attached Valley Park Arena, no such arrangement could be made for the pool.

“Unfortunately, because the pool is so tied into those mechanical systems that will be worked on, we won’t be able to keep that isolated and open during that time,” Kerr said.

Kerr noted the library will expand to 12,600 square feet and the rec centre will see the addition of another 3,000 square feet of community program space. The project includes updating the pool’s mechanical components, which date back to 1990, including heat exchangers, filters and boilers. Kerr said completing all of the work concurrently allows the city to mobilize and reduce costs, while using the same contractors for the library as the rec centre.

“It allows us to save time as well,” she said.

Once work is completed, pool users should see improvements in the air quality and filtration, plus the addition of new, accessible washrooms.

“They’re also going to see some more consistency in the pool temperature; we’ve been struggling with that for a number of years,” Kerr added. 

To offset the loss of pool programs at Valley Park, the Stoney Creek Creek Recreation Centre, Huntington Park Recreation Centre and some other smaller centres will see added programs.

“Valley (Park) is one of our top-utilized centres,” said Kerr. “We’ve definitely expanded the programming at many centres around it.”

Huntington Park will have early-morning adult swims four days a week, which will be reflected on the fall schedule, due out in August.

Kerr said Huntington Park should also be able to accommodate pool users like Desrochers, who require wider swimming lanes. Both Huntington Park and Stoney Creek rec centres have adult accessible devices and accommodations.

City staff will monitor pool program attendance, said Kerr, and could add additional programs at other rec centres if demand warrants them.

Two-year closure of Stoney Creek's Valley Park pool stuns users

Renovation timelines unavoidable, city says

News Jul 21, 2019 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

For Barb Hexemer, there’s no better way to start the day than in the pool.

“It makes you feel great,” the Stoney Creek senior said. “You start your day off so good. It makes you feel so much better after you’re done your swimming, your exercising. You’re ready to go.”

But today Hexemer and several other regulars who attend early-morning adult swim sessions at Valley Park Recreation Centre are concerned they could be forced to give up one of their favourite pastimes. Earlier this month, the City of Hamilton announced the recreation centre – including the indoor pool – will close for two years to allow for an $8.1-million rehabilitation of the Paramount Drive complex. The rec centre closure is scheduled for Sept. 3, with an expected completion date by fall 2021. The project also includes a major expansion of the attached Valley Park Library and a dehumidifier upgrade at the Valley Park Arena.

Hexemer started a petition and gathered over 125 names of pool users opposed to the two-year closure.

“It’s really going to hurt,” said Hexemer. “I’ve been going for 13 years and I’ve met a lot of nice friends. It’s tough. Valley Park is the one that has the most early-morning swims for seniors. And that’s a big deal.”

Pool patron Lori Frank said that while many recreation centre users were aware of the renovation project, the two-year time frame came as a shock.

“Just a phased-in approach could have accommodated people a little bit better,” she said.

The early-morning swims at Valley Park allow Frank to start her day with morning exercises before heading off to work at 8 a.m. And while pool patrons have been told they can access sessions at other city rec centres, Frank said the extra travel time could make her late for work.

Don Desrochers lives in the area of Dewitt Road and Highway 8, near the city-owned H.G. Brewster Pool, but drives to Valley Park for its accessibility features. A right-leg amputee, Desrochers has also overcome bypass surgery, cancer and pneumonia. The morning swims at Valley Park are vital, he said, to help keep up his upper-body strength.

“That’s one of the ways I stay fit,” said Desrochers. “Other than that, I have no other form of exercise that I do or are really capable of doing.”

Valley Park also offers wider swimming lanes than many other city pools, said Desrochers, which he needs to accommodate his disability. Although he also swims at the Stoney Creek Recreation Centre, Desrochers said that facility lacks the wider lanes.

Budh Dhillon attends Valley Park’s early-morning adult swims four times a week. He recently renewed his city recreation pass for the year, before finding out about the Valley Park closure.

“The closure for two years, I think, is unreasonable,” he said.

Pool patron Bruce Cowan said the early-morning swims attract many seniors who may have difficulties accessing other facilities.

“It is a concern,” he said. “We just found out about it a couple of weeks ago. Apparently, it’s been on the books for a while, but I guess it was one of those things. It took us by surprise.”

“It’s going to hurt a lot of people socially as well,” Cowan added. People are very concerned about that.”

Laura Kerr, manager of program development in the city’s recreation division, said the city empathizes with pool users. But due to the extensive work required for the rec centre and library expansion, the roughly two-year closure is unavoidable.

“We’re completely empathetic to the disruption that this causes to a number of individuals that access the centre; however, we’re confident and excited for what the outcome will be in the end,” said Kerr.

Due to the structural work, and the shared mechanical systems within the complex, completing the work in stages in order to keep the pool open longer wasn’t an option, said Kerr.

Although staff have found a way to prevent ice cancellations at the attached Valley Park Arena, no such arrangement could be made for the pool.

“Unfortunately, because the pool is so tied into those mechanical systems that will be worked on, we won’t be able to keep that isolated and open during that time,” Kerr said.

Kerr noted the library will expand to 12,600 square feet and the rec centre will see the addition of another 3,000 square feet of community program space. The project includes updating the pool’s mechanical components, which date back to 1990, including heat exchangers, filters and boilers. Kerr said completing all of the work concurrently allows the city to mobilize and reduce costs, while using the same contractors for the library as the rec centre.

“It allows us to save time as well,” she said.

Once work is completed, pool users should see improvements in the air quality and filtration, plus the addition of new, accessible washrooms.

“They’re also going to see some more consistency in the pool temperature; we’ve been struggling with that for a number of years,” Kerr added. 

To offset the loss of pool programs at Valley Park, the Stoney Creek Creek Recreation Centre, Huntington Park Recreation Centre and some other smaller centres will see added programs.

“Valley (Park) is one of our top-utilized centres,” said Kerr. “We’ve definitely expanded the programming at many centres around it.”

Huntington Park will have early-morning adult swims four days a week, which will be reflected on the fall schedule, due out in August.

Kerr said Huntington Park should also be able to accommodate pool users like Desrochers, who require wider swimming lanes. Both Huntington Park and Stoney Creek rec centres have adult accessible devices and accommodations.

City staff will monitor pool program attendance, said Kerr, and could add additional programs at other rec centres if demand warrants them.