Air quality at Regina pool like an 'old barn', swimmers say
The future of major swimming events at Regina's Lawson Aquatic Centre may be in doubt as concerns are being raised about air quality in the facility, which some have described as an old barn.
"Some nights everyone on the team is just coughing, coughing, coughing," Jenna Haupstein, a member of a provincial water polo team that uses the Lawson several times a week during their season, told CBC News. "And it's not really a cough you can get rid of. You'll try to get the tickle out of your throat, but it just stays there"
The swimmers have taken to calling the condition "chlorine cough".
Two swimming groups — Swim Saskatchewan and Swim Manitoba — have sent formal complaints to the City of Regina, noting that air quality has been an issue for years at the Lawson.
The groups also said they may no longer use the pool for major events.
"Until this problem is resolved we cannot recommend that our members attend events at this facility," a letter from Swim Manitoba, obtained by CBC News, said.
Another complaint letter, from Swim Saskatchewan, said high-level athletes should not have to endure substandard conditions.
"The poor air quality at Lawson is known throughout Western Canada and is known to be called 'the old barn'," the Swim Saskatchewan complaint said. "The feeling amongst the membership is that the city is not listening, that the city is not doing anything, they do not care and more importantly that they are putting our children at risk."
Complaints to health authority
Recently, dozens of people who were in the Lawson complained about the air quality at the pool and some contacted the local health authority.
Robert Shuba, the manager of environmental health for the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region, confirmed that parents of swimmers raised concerns in March.
"They complained about poor air quality, high chlorine levels and some kids being sick," Shuba said.
According to the city, the March incident was linked to snow on an air intake vent.
"As soon as we were made aware of the issue our mechanical staff inspected the unit, removed the blockage and made sure it was running as it should," Karen Gasmo, director of facility and management services for the City of Regina, said.
It was also noted, at the time, that when the ventilation system shut down due to the snow build-up a warning system failed. That has since been tended to and health officials say there are no issues for them.
"They're still operating," Shuba said. "There's nothing to suggest they shouldn't be operating."
City of Regina officials told CBC News that a consultant, a mechanical engineer, has been hired to do a thorough evaluation of the Lawson and a report is expected next week.
The pool was built in 1974.