Fredericton studies solar panels to heat outdoor pools
Warmer pools could extend the swimming season at 4 outdoor pools
Fredericton is looking into the idea of using solar panels to heat its outdoor pools in a bid to prolong the swimming season.
The city's residents can swim in four different city-owned outdoor pools for 65 days every year.
A city committee listened to a presentation by city staff on Thursday about how much it would cost to extend the season with solar-warming technology.
Staff reported it would cost $260,000, at $65,000 per pool, just to install the solar technology. Every extra week the pools stay open, the city would need to pay more than $13,000, mostly for staffing.
Coun. Kate Rogers said at the meeting she often gets emails about line-ups and wait times at Queen's Square.
Rogers suggested that popular outdoor pool could be used as a pilot project to see how the technology works.
Coun. Mike O'Brien, the chairperson of the community services committee, said he sees the pilot project idea as viable.
"That would give us some feedback on how to roll it out larger, should we do that," he said.
"There is a larger aquatics context we have to look at. But obviously the feasibility of doing one pool on a trial project would seem to make … be the easiest to do and work into a budget, should we be able to accommodate it."
No changes to any of the city's pools have been confirmed, but the committee said it's going to have to find a way to accommodate the city's swimmers and figure out just how many there are.
4 outdoor pools
The locations in question are Henry Park, Queen Square, Marysville and Royal Road pools.
The outdoor pools open the Tuesday after schools end and stay open until the second Thursday in August every year.
But that's not enough, say some swimmers, especially when the weather doesn't co-operate.
"Actually it needs to be relatively hot out for the water to stay warm. You'd be surprised, I mean if it's only in the low 20s, it's a little bit cool and the kids don't last very long. But where it's been so hot it's perfect," says Travis Wedge, a parent of avid swimmers.
Some swimmers, such as Bob McCarthy, say they don't need a warm pool to enjoy the facilities.
"I really don't think it's necessary. It's probably a waste of money. Now that's my opinion, but you know, the children seem to be OK. They don't seem to mind it either," he said.