Free admission at Edmonton outdoor pools starting Canada Day

For Edmontonians looking for a dip in an outdoor pool to cool off this summer, there's some good news. The city is offering free admission to all four of its outdoor pools beginning July 1, in celebration of Canada's 150th birthday.

The city will give a full refund to those people who have already purchased an outdoor pool pass

People will be able to swim for free beginning July 1 at all of the city's four outdoor swimming pools including this one, Queen Elizabeth Pool, beside the Kinsmen Sports Centre. (Lydia Neufeld/CBC)

For Edmontonians looking for a dip in an outdoor pool to cool off this summer, there's some good news.

The city said Wednesday that admission to its four outdoor pools will be free this summer beginning July 1, in celebration of Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation.

The pools are Queen Elizabeth, Fred Broadstock, Mill Creek and Oliver.
Swimmers are excited the City of Edmonton has announced outdoor pools in Edmonton from July 1 through to the end of the season to celebrate Canada 150. 1:02

"We hope Edmontonians will come out and embrace their outdoor pools as part of their 150 celebrations," said Roger Jevne, branch manager of community and recreation facilities.

The free admission will be in effect until the end of the summer outdoor pool season.

"We took a bit of a cue from the federal government making national parks free," said Jevne. "It's a short season so if we can get better utilization, get those pools full all summer long, it's a good way to add to the celebrations taking place."

Swimmers at Queen Elizabeth pool were happy with the announcement, saying they expect to use the pools more this summer as a result.

"It's amazing," said Paul Schur. "There's no excuse not to come and use it. Our summers are so short."
Paul Schur jumps off the high diving board at Queen Elizabeth Pool on Wednesday. (Lydia Neufeld/CBC)

"I think it's a good idea," added Sadie O'Rourke. "It gives us a chance to bring people who don't have money to come swimming."

Attendance at the four outdoor pools last summer was about 89,000, said city staff.

Move will cost city $350,000

The free admission will cost the city $350,000 in lost revenue and additional staffing costs, said Jevne. 

The money will come from a reserve fund that has been set aside for city celebrations to mark Canada's 150th birthday.

The regular entry fee for a family to a city outdoor pool is $20.50.

"We're hoping that if admission is a barrier, that barrier is gone so that the pools will be packed," said Jevne. "On those beautiful 30-degree summer days we'll have full outdoor pools. That's a good problem, and we'll manage that."

Extra staff will be on the pool decks, and on warm days, Edmontonians who are turned away will be encouraged to visit any of the city's 64 spray parks.

Lifeguards prepared for large crowds

"We've been preparing for it," said Scott Bell, lifeguard and facilities foreman at Queen Elizabeth pool.

Lifeguards have undergone additional training, he said.

"It gets harder to see in the water as we have more sunscreen and more people," Bell said. "We do quicker rotations to keep the lifeguards fresh,make sure they're getting water and sun breaks."

People who have already purchased a pass for the outdoor pool season will get a full refund, said Shauna Graham, outdoor pool supervisor.

Roughly 140 outdoor pool passes were sold before the city decided to offer free admission.

For those people, "the cheque's in the mail" giving them a full refund, Graham said.