Pool renovation coming in 2011

The Max Bell Regional Aquatic Centre will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2011 with a $2.7 million renovation.

The facility, the largest of its kind in southern Alberta, will see a significant upgrade to the support systems that control air handling, water circulation and other equipment. To make the renovations and upgrades possible, the building will close for four months beginning in May 2011, and is expected to re-open in Sept. 2011.

While a closure is an inconvenience, University of Lethbridge officials say that the upgrades are necessary to ensure the building remains in top shape for the next 25 years.

"Our facility is used by thousands of people each year, including numerous regular user groups, and we host many local, regional and national-level aquatic events (15-20 per year, on average that draw upwards of 2,000 people)," says Deb Marek, the facilities and services manager for Sport and Recreation Services.

Marek adds that because many groups book events such as swim meets a year in advance, it is necessary to inform user groups about the renovation plan as soon as possible.

"We chose this late spring to late summer time period because many groups stop their programming over the summer, and the pool traditionally closes in August for routine maintenance," she says. "We are also giving people a year of lead time to ensure that the least amount of people and aquatic groups are affected, and to also make sure we could work with other aquatic facilities in the area to look after our pool users."

Recent meetings with other pool operators in the city have begun the process of making room for U of L pool users. The pool hosts more than 75,000 client visits per year.

"We have recently met with the City of Lethbridge and Recreation Excellence (the pool service provider for city pools)," says Marek. "They will do their best to accommodate user groups that are displaced from our facility by making their pools available for rentals and expanding hours if necessary."

In the end, all pool users will benefit from the upgrade.

"We expect that with this renovation, our aquatic facility will be a more comfortable place for people to visit, and will have the necessary equipment upgrades to ensure it is maintained at the high quality our users and the community expects," says Marek.

Updates about the project will be available on the U of L website and the Sport and Recreation Services website as it draws nearer to being started.