The Vancouver Park Board wants to ramp up plans to build one or two new outdoor pools in the next few years.

On Monday night the board passed a motion asking staff to explore quick start strategies to expedite the construction of the new pools.

The aim is to have construction underway within 18 to 24 month, says Chair Sarah Kirby-Yung.

"We know that there are certain areas of the city that are underserved, particularly South and East Vancouver," she said. "Even the West Side, if you don't live down near the ocean."

Possible sites include Sunset Park, which used to have an outdoor pool, the Marpole Community Centre, which is up for renewal, and Mount Pleasant in East Vancouver, where a pool was filled in 2009 despite local demands to keep it open.

The new pools would be large enough for adults to swim laps, said Kirby-Yung.

New Brighton Pool

Vancouver's outdoor pools, including New Brighton, opened for the season on the May long weekend. (Karin Larsen/CBC)

Pool shortage in Vancouver

Currently Vancouver has three larger outdoor pools at Kitsilano Beach, Second Beach and New Brighton Park, but they all in the north end of the city. There are also two shallow pools at Hillcrest and Maple Grove for children.

In comparison, the motion notes, most major Canadian cities have many more outdoor pools:

  • Montreal has 74.
  • Toronto has 57.
  • Winnipeg has 10.
  • Ottawa has nine.
  • Calgary has seven.
  • Edmonton has five.

According to Commissioner John Coupar, who put forward the motion, new outdoor pools would help alleviate the shortage of space for swimming lessons and other recreational activities.

But a 2011 staff report (pdf) concluded standalone outdoor pools are more expensive to operate and recommended combining them with indoor pools to share costs.

Kirby-Yung says, if necessary, the board will redirect funding from other projects to prioritize the construction of the new pools.

"We are a water city in Vancouver and people want to make sure that their kids have that experience," she said.