Pricey fixes to meet code could stave off shallower version of city hall wading pool

The wading pool in front of city hall could stay at its current water depth of 40 centimetres if council chooses one of two alternative designs that would cost $400,000 more than the original design renovations.

City proposes a fence or 24-hour security to meet Alberta building code standards

A rendering of the city hall wading pool that depicts the proposed ankle-deep level. (City of Edmonton)

The wading pool in front of city hall could stay at its current water depth of 40 centimetres if councillors choose one of two alternative designs outlined in a report released Thursday.

The alternatives to the original $13-million design finalized in October 2017 would add an estimated $400,000 to $520,000 to the cost, and take four to six months longer to complete.

The city was planning to lower the water depth to 15 centimetres as part of rehabilitating the 25-year-old fountain and encompassing plaza.

But an outcry from the public prompted city councillors to ask administration to consider alternatives that would keep the pool at the knee-high wading depth.

"Administration recognizes the importance of this public space," the report said.

Since 1992, the report said, the plaza has been a "gathering place for Edmontonians and an iconic amenity in the heart of downtown."

Two alternatives

The city proposes two methods to maintain the current water level while meeting Alberta Building Code and Alberta Health Services standards.

One includes a white pool basin, a ramp to make it accessible and a fence surrounding the perimeter. An enhanced filtration system to deal with the water volume would cost another $400,000.

The other alternative design calls for a 24-hour, on-site security personnel and no fence. The filtration system would cost the same at $400,000 and overnight security service is estimated to cost $121,000.

Coun. Aaron Paquette said he's already getting feedback  on the alternative ideas and his constituents want the city to ditch the fence idea. 

"This is something we got right, let's not change the formula," Paquette told CBC News Thursday. 

The fence would create a barrier, change the feel of the plaza and impede access to the pool, he said.

"Let's spruce it up, let's give it the updates it needs," he said, "but let's not fundamentally change how we use it."

Coun. Aaron Paquette says he heard from hundreds of constituents who want the wading pool saved. (City of Edmonton)

In Alberta, building codes pertaining to swimming pools include safety measures such as fences. 

Paquette is in favour of installing the upgraded filtration system to keep the water level at 40 centimetres. 

"Since we're renovating anyway, we might as well bring things up to code."

Under provincial legislation, the pool has to meet the same standards as any other outdoor pool in Alberta.

The current specifications on flow rates and filtration do not meet standards that will be required by the province by Nov. 30, 2019.  The water will need to be filtered every two hours; currently the pool is set up to turn water over every three.

The original rehabilitation plan was slated to take 13 months and coincide with construction on the Valley Line LRT, with the goal of reopening in time for 2019 summer festival season.

Councillors will discuss the options at an executive committee on Monday.

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