British Columbia

Templeton Pool could shut down by 2023 under Vancouver Park Board aquatic plan

The Vancouver Park Board is floating a plan that could spell the end for Templeton Pool, one of the city's oldest indoor pools.

'To even consider tearing it down is just blasphemy,' says East Vancouver resident

Templeton Pool opened in 1974 and has never been renovated. (Margaret Gallagher/CBC)

The Vancouver Park Board is floating a plan that could spell the end for one of the city's oldest indoor pools.

Under the board's VanSplash strategy — a 25-year plan for the city's recreational water amenities — the Britannia Pool in East Vancouver would be replaced with a larger community facility.

The expansion means nearby Templeton Pool would shut down by 2023.

The board drafted its plan based on the input of 4,500 residents and 60 groups. 

"These facilities are aging and their life spans are almost up," said Katy Amon, the board's planning lead for VanSplash.

Templeton was built in 1974 and has never been renovated. Britannia opened one year later and underwent some renovations in 1998 but is now badly in need of repairs. 

The board says there's significant service overlap between the neighbouring pools.

"As we have a growing population, we need more capacity in our system," Amon said.

"Probably the most effective way is for us to build bigger, as opposed to many more small pools."

'If it ain't broke, don't fix it'

Regular users of Templeton are criticizing the plan, citing concerns for low income families and an aging Chinese population who live within walking distance.  

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," Steve Murphy said on a visit Monday morning.

"There's not a pool as good as this. To even consider tearing it down is just blasphemy."

Steve Murphy has lived on Vancouver's east side for 20 years and regularly uses Templeton Pool. (Margaret Gallagher/CBC)

Other users said Templeton is a refuge from the families and kids that crowd other indoor pools, particularly the popular Hillcrest Aquatic Centre.

That pool opened in 2010 and sees up to 800,000 swims per year.

"Those bigger pools like a playground to me," Carol Cheng said. "They build it for families and for kids to play — not for seniors to do their exercises."

The Hastings Community Centre says it has collected hundreds of signatures for a petition in support of preserving Templeton.

"It is a local pool, first and foremost," spokeswoman Amy Childs said in an email.

"We feel it serves the northeast corner of the city, with its unique and diverse qualities, in ways a large destination pool cannot."

Templeton offers a weekly trans-and-allies swim, for instance, as well as nude swims.

Childs said patrons who use those programs may not feel comfortable in a larger facility.

A petition quickly sprang up after Templeton Pool users learned of the potential closure. (Margaret Gallagher/CBC)

Board still gathering feedback

The park board says the newer pools would be accessible by transit and serve more people and fears of a less intimate space could be addressed through design.

Amon stressed the proposal is still a draft and the park board is keen on community input. It's hosting three open houses this week. 

The proposal also includes replacing Kerrisdale, Lord Byng and the Vancouver Aquatic Centre with new facilities, as well as renovating Kensington Pool.

Those facilities, plus Britannia and Templeton, make up 34 per cent of indoor pool visits.

Amon said the expansions would ease pressure on Hillcrest, the busiest pool in the system.

A final report will be presented to the park board's commissioners for a vote by the end of the year.

With files from Margaret Gallagher and CBC's Early Edition