Community Stories

We’re almost ready to welcome you back!

The average household bathtub holds about 150 litres of water – taking maybe three or four minutes to fill before you can enjoy a soak. Now imagine filling it up over three-thousand times!

That’s how much water it takes to fill the main pool at the Collicutt Centre and that doesn’t even include the kids pool or the hot tubs!

“It’s a huge job,” admits Denis Delemont, Collicutt Centre Supervisor. “To get our main basin up and running from empty and to the right temperature and treatment level, it takes time and expertise.”

Two of Red Deer’s busiest pools, the Collicutt Centre and the G.H. Dawe Community Centre, will take about one and a half million litres of water combined. Before we can welcome swimmers back, all that water has to be treated and the filtration systems have to be running like well-oiled machines. That includes a special robot that cleans the bottom and sides of the pool.

“It even goes up and down the walls. It’s pretty neat to watch,” says Art Dockrill, Facility Operator at the G.H. Dawe Centre. “It’s a little underwater vacuum that picks up debris off the bottom and sides of the pool.”

Getting The City’s pools back up and running takes time, especially after such a long shutdown. The Recreation department was down to 15% of its typical staff compliment and recalling all the necessary staff takes time. Staff also need to be re-hired and trained, new safety features installed, and all the equipment needs to be tested.

“We have to make sure all our pumps are working properly, backwashing the filters to make sure they’re clean,” explains Dockrill. “Once the level gets high enough we’ll start circulating the water through the filters and automation system to make sure it’s got the proper chlorine levels and pH levels.”

Facility crews have been hard at work preparing pools since the Province announced recreation centres are permitted to reopen in stage 2 of Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy. From equipment operations, to water testing, to staff readiness, the transition to restart Red Deer’s pools is complex.

“Before we open we’ll take a water sample from the pools, send it to the provincial lab, and they do their testing,” says Dockrill. The water testing process takes two weeks alone. “We need to have two positives (tests) before we’re good to go and it’s safe to welcome back our guests,” adds Delemont.

Just down the hall at the Collicutt Centre, a second crew is working hard to bring another popular amenity back online, just in time for hockey and figure skating camps.

“They have to get the floor to the right temperature and then put a little bit of ice down. Then once that’s sealed they’ll paint it white,” explains Delemont.

Once the ice surface is a nice, bright white, then comes the intricate work of carefully painting the lines and logos. It takes a steady hand! A few more coats to seal in the colour and the ice will be ready for hockey players and figure skaters to enjoy.

The Collicutt Centre ice surface will be open to user groups on July 6. The G.H. Dawe and Collicutt Centre pools will be open for modified public swimming July 20, with private swim lessons beginning the following week. It's been a long time since Red Deerians were able to enjoy these recreation amenities, and we are excited to welcome you back!

“It’s a much-needed opportunity for people to get out and get active again,” says Delemont. “Although we’ll be limited in what we can offer, it’ll still be a place for them to come and get active.”

For a complete list of recreation amenities and their planned opening dates, visit our website.