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4 cool swimming pool ideas floated by Vancouver Park Board

Natural pools, harbour decks, urban beaches, and floating pools are just some of the ideas in a new staff report.

Families enjoy a natural pool in Riehen, Switzerland.

Vancouver Park Board/submitted

Families enjoy a natural pool in Riehen, Switzerland.

The Vancouver Park Board is looking to expand people’s ideas about swimming with a new VanSplash strategy that includes ideas like a floating pool in False Creek, a natural pool on the shores of the Fraser River, and a man-made beach in South Vancouver.

“The general aim is to move the system beyond just providing meeting a target of number-of-swims. We’re looking to expand the type of experience people can have at our facilities,” said Katy Amon, the project lead of the park board’s VanSplash strategy.

Staff are set to present the strategy to commissioners Monday night and will conduct public information sessions on the strategy this fall.

Read on to find out more about four ideas included in the new report.

1. Natural Pool

Some cities, like Riehen, Switzerland, have experimented with natural pools already.

Vancouver Park Board/submitted

Some cities, like Riehen, Switzerland, have experimented with natural pools already.

The most likely site for a natural pool is somewhere along the shores of the Fraser River, in South Vancouver, said Amon. It’s a scenic choice for an outdoor pool, a continuing theme for the park board – think Kitsilano, New Brighton, and Second Beach pools – but it would also fulfill a service gap that currently exists in South Vancouver, she said. Almost all outdoor swimming pools are located in the northern part of the city.

As for the pool itself, the water won’t come from a natural source but it will be cleaned and filtered “naturally,” by plant and gravel systems. Those plants will also serve aesthetic purposes because they will surround the pool and create a more “natural” feel to the area, said Amon.

But don’t get too excited – this idea won’t likely become reality for another eight to 10 years, according to Amon.

2. Harbour Deck

This is one of the examples of a harbour deck included in a park board staff report on the VanSplash 2017 strategy.

Vancouver Park Board/screengrab

This is one of the examples of a harbour deck included in a park board staff report on the VanSplash 2017 strategy.

This idea, which would encompass anything from wood to concrete decks to temporary structures, would likely apply to popular swimming destinations, like beaches said Amon.

“We’d be looking to have it in a location that already has a draw for swimming. One possible example might be English Bay.”

Staff would need to study the effect of tides and storm exposure before the park board builds a harbour deck, she noted.

3. Urban beaches

Temporary urban beaches provide a beach-like experience for residents who don't live close to the ocean.

Vancouver Park Board/screengrab

Temporary urban beaches provide a beach-like experience for residents who don't live close to the ocean.

Vancouver’s beaches are located on the city’s west and northern borders, which means residents in South and East Vancouver have a more difficult time accessing them, Amon pointed out.

“It’s about bringing equity to other parts of the city in terms of [beaches]. It’s unlikely we will integrate one close to any of our existing beaches.”

One idea is to pair urban beaches with existing water features like spray parks, she said.

4. Floating pool

This is one example of a floating pool, in Berlin.

Getty Images

This is one example of a floating pool, in Berlin.

This feature is still in the early stages of development, according to Amon. But it could be a temporary way to offer swimming opportunities in False Creek, while the park board tries to clean the creek water.  

“We have to test the feasibility, but it would be an opportunity to provide an interim swimming opportunity in False Creek,” said Amon.

The pool would be self-contained and filled with potable water. 

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