Outdoor pool deemed illegal, despite government funding

esidents of the Bonavista Peninsula community of Plate Cove East are at a loss to explain why the government wants to shut down their outdoor swimming pool, after paying a pretty penny to fix up damage from a recent hurricane.

Plate Cove East river-based swimming hole runs afoul of province

The swimming hole at Plate Cove East has remained popular with families this summer, despite a government ruling that it is illegal. (CBC)

Residents of the Bonavista Peninsula community of Plate Cove East are at a loss to explain why the government wants to shut their outdoor swimming pool, after paying a pretty penny to fix up damage from a recent hurricane.

The water in the flow-in, flow-out pool in Plate Cove East comes from a brook and is then directed into the ocean. The pool, which more accurately resembles a holding tank of river water, was originally built in the 1960s.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government says the pool is illegal because it does not meet health and safety regulations - which confounds residents, who obtained government funding to repair damage caused by Hurricane Igor in 2010.

"One side of the government is giving us $130,000-plus to repair it after Igor, and the other hand of the government is saying you're operating an illegal facility," said Michelle Keough, the vice-president of the local committee that runs the pool.

The pool first ran afoul of a government inspection in 2009. After Igor struck, efforts were made to repair the pool. But Keough said the issue is still not resolved.

"The cement is fresh, the paint is fresh, it's a much easier pool now to sweep out and clean and all that stuff," she said. "Then at the beginning of last year, we received another letter stating that we are operating an illegal pool again. So, from there it's just been continuous red tape."

Safety standards not met: province

Service NL says the pool still does not meet the necessary safety standards, and that it needs a chlorination system and water filtration, as well as the presence of a lifeguard and adequate life-saving equipment.

It's just been continuous red tape- Michelle Keough

The government recognizes that federal and provincial money went to repair storm damage to the pool after Igor, but said that does not mean that safety standards should not be met.

Even so, the pool continues to operate, and is popular with local families looking for a cool relief from recent hot weather.

"Not one parent here would think that it's an unsafe structure or unsafe for their kids. If they did, obviously they wouldn't allow their children," said Keough, adding that swimmers use the pool at their own risk, "the same as any other swimming hole. And it's to me and to many more it's a much safer facility than them going back in the woods to a pond. Because that's exactly what it is, it's pond water."

The government as yet has not issued a shutdown order to the community pool.

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